Nursing homes chief calls for fourth Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out as virus outbreaks hit 65 per cent of facilities

The head of Nursing Homes Ireland has called for the rapid roll-out of the fourth Covid-19 vaccine as the sector grapples with a large number of virus outbreaks.

adhg Daly said his organization is calling on the National Immunization Advisory Committee (NIAC) to approve the fourth vaccine to protect staff and residents.

“We all accept that it’s likely, so we think we shouldn’t wait. If it happens eventually, it’s better for it to happen sooner than later,” he said.

Mr Daly said the sector has been hit hard by the current Covid-19 wave, with large numbers of unemployed workers and outbreaks at facilities across the country.

He said there are currently over 330 Covid-19 outbreaks in public, private and voluntary care homes across the country.


Tadhg Daly, Managing Director of Nursing Homes Ireland. Photo: Frank McGrath

The head of care homes said this accounts for about 65 per cent of all facilities, but “the good news” is that most residents are not very ill.

His comments came after Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said several hundred thousand people are being infected with Covid-19 every week, but there are no plans for restrictions to be reinstated.

Mr Donnelly said “serious action” was needed to reduce the rise in infections and reiterated Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan’s advice that no new Covid rules were needed at this time.

“The subvariant we are dealing with now, the BA2 variant, is very, very contagious and the kind of measures you would need to take to radically reduce the spread would be really quite serious measures indeed ‘ the health minister told a private Fianna membership meeting of the Fáil party last night.

This morning, Mr Daly said: “The disease profile is much, much lower with many members reporting that many residents do have a real cold or bad cold than what we have seen in previous waves of Covid.”

Mr Daly said the number of residents who have the virus in each home is generally quite small, but there are “outliers” and the “big impact” is on affected residents who need to isolate themselves.

He told RTÉ Tomorrow Ireland Program that staffing is another issue as a large number of care home workers are currently unemployed due to Covid-19.

“The last thing we want right now is visitor restrictions, but we have to be vigilant,” he said.

“We would have been concerned about the easing of restrictions in society in general and we have issued instructions to our own members and to the public in general that people should continue to wear face masks throughout the visit.”

Mr Daly said in some cases visitation restrictions have been re-imposed for “a day or two” if an outbreak occurs and care homes are also asking “regular visitors” to limit their social contacts where possible.

Meanwhile, a recent Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report found that a quarter of all care homes inspected were in breach of three or more health codes, including infection control measures in some cases.

Mr Daly said some facilities need to improve standards but argued the pandemic is an “ongoing challenge” that brings with it a shared responsibility for care home managers and visitors. Nursing homes chief calls for fourth Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out as virus outbreaks hit 65 per cent of facilities

Fry Electronics Team

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