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HSE will call on 'influential groups' to encourage people to get Covid-19 vaccine

CEO Paul Reid said the HSE wants to stay ‘well ahead’ of anti vaccination campaigns and get clear and precise information to people.

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THE HSE HAS said it will be calling on “key influential groups” to help with its communications strategy for the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Tomorrow the Covid-19 vaccine taskforce will present its overall strategy to the government and it is expected to be put before Cabinet early next week.

Speaking at the HSE’s weekly briefing today, CEO Paul Reid said one of the work streams of the taskforce has been the whole area of communications.

“That will involve strategic communication up to and before the vaccination programme and when the vaccination programme commences, and obviously in the operation and implementation of it,” he said.

Reid said the HSE will be “calling on very key influential groups to play a part”.

“From our perspective the more very influential groups that come out unambiguously and clear, the more helpful it is for us. Anti-vaxxers and anti-vaxxer campaigns, we want to stay well ahead of that and get clear, precise information out.”

Last week the Taoiseach said he would be willing to publicly receive the vaccine on television. Research by RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne found over nine out of ten TDs would get a Covid-19 vaccine if it was available to them.

In a statement yesterday, a group representing Irish bishops said it is “morally permissible” for Catholics to take a Covid-19 vaccine that involves using foetal cell lines. Most Covid-19 vaccines in development do not use human cells to produce them.

Although Reid said the vaccine developments in recent weeks meant people could look forward to 2021 with greater hope and optimism, he urged people to stay the course over the Christmas period.

He said the HSE wants to avoid a high number of cases, each with a higher number of close contacts, in the period just after Christmas, when the health services generally come under the most pressure.

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“There is high demand in a normal year for non-Covid services but our challenge this year is doubled. We will have to meet the demand but also the demand of what we are seeing in the projected higher cases,” he said.

He urged people to make “sensible and safe” decisions about what to do over the holidays and in particular to keep the number of contacts down. 

“The personal judgments that we make and how we live, how we visit, how we meet our friends and family over Christmas, will be key to protecting the health service,” he said.

“I know some people have an intention and a natural and understandable intention, to say ‘I will have a higher number of contacts for a few days over Christmas, and then I will reduce them rapidly’.

“Unfortunately, the circumstances that we know will happen with that, a high number of contacts will lead to a high spread of the virus.”

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