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26/07/2021

Covid-19 expert Luke O'Neill joins vaccination push at Irish prisons

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Midlands Prison Portlaoise inmates to see video made with Prof Luke O'Neill of Trinity College Dublin

Covid-19 expert Professor Luke O’Neill is working with Irish Red Cross inmate volunteers to create Covid-19 vaccine video for prison population to boost rates.

The Irish Red Cross says the initiative is part of the efforts to encourage vaccination among prisoners. It says Irish Red Cross inmate volunteers have put together a video answering fellow inmates’ questions and concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine.

The inmate volunteers gathered the most commonly asked questions from inmates across Ireland’s 12 prisons to put to Prof O’Neill in a question and answers session that was recorded in May.

The 45-minute video, which is being shown on in-cell TV channels within the prison, hopes to educate the prison population about the benefits of the vaccine and encourage vaccine uptake among inmates.

Prof O’Neill, who is professor of biochemistry in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, stressed the importance of encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

“During the event we talked about Covid-19, the vaccine, immunology and all sorts. We had a great question and answer session and many questions came up, which I was very happy to answer as best I could. We really want to see people getting vaccinated as it’s the main way out of Covid-19 and the vaccines are working great – they’re probably the best vaccines ever invented.

"We have nearly two billion people vaccinated now and we would encourage everybody to get vaccinated. A big thanks to the Red Cross volunteers for getting all the questions together for this important event,” he said.

Just like in the community, the Red Cross says inmates’ queries about the vaccine mostly centred around its safety and side effects, whether the vaccine actually contains the Covid-19 virus, whether it is likely to cause blood clots and if it can stop transmission of the virus from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated.

The volunteer programme, which started in 2009 and is a partnership between the Irish Red Cross, Irish Prison Service and Education and Training Boards, has brought about a radical transformation in the management of health-related and infection control measures in prisons and has been pivotal to the successful management of Covid-19 in Irish prisons.

Due to privacy reasons, the Irish Red Cross says will not be able to share the video with the media.

Read more about the programme here.

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