Vaccination delay to over 65s in mental health care unacceptable26 January 2021
We are closely monitoring the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations across mental health services that provide care for people aged 65 and over.
It follows assurances by the HSE that these facilities are now being prioritised, and that residents and staff will receive a Covid-19 vaccination by the end of January. The MHC remains concerned that vaccinations are being delayed for many centres providing services for residents aged 65 and over - a cohort of people that was included in the first allocation group for Covid-19 vaccinations published by the government prior to Christmas.
“All mental health services which provide care for people over 65 years of age in long-stay accommodation have still not received their vaccinations,” said the Director of Regulation for the MHC, Gary Kiernan. “Many of these centres have not yet received a vaccination schedule from the HSE and have received no assurance about how and when vaccinations will take place. The MHC believes that this is unacceptable in the context of the government’s direction that these vulnerable people must receive a vaccine as part of the first priority rollout.
“The HSE has said that mental health services for people over 65 years of age will receive full vaccination cover before the end of January,” added Mr Kiernan. “The MHC will be closely monitoring these services over the coming days to verify that this is the case. We are aware that some services are currently getting access to the vaccine but this it is not happening at the rate that is required.”
This assurance comes as confirmed Covid-19 case numbers continue to rise across the mental health services that the MHC is monitoring. As of Friday, January 22nd, there were 269 confirmed resident and staff cases, a 44 per cent increase in confirmed cases since the previous Friday. The MHC was also notified of the deaths of a further three residents in two centres.
We continue to provide the Department of Health and the HSE with a weekly report that includes a summary of notified cases and any concerns identified as part of its risk monitoring of in-patient mental health centres and 24-hour community residences. Combined, these 183 facilities care for more than 3,900 mental health patients and residents across the country.
“Sadly, we continue to see an increase in case numbers across the country, relating to both staff and resident cases, and in respect of a number of outbreaks,” confirmed the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly. “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the three people that died over the past week.
“It is critical now that the vulnerable people in these mental health centres receive their vaccination without any further delay. People aged 65 and over in long-term care are the first people on the government priority list. It is imperative that the HSE ensures transparency and accountability in the vaccination rollout so that this vulnerable group are taken care of. Although their voice is not as strong as other groups, their need is among the highest.”
We provided the following metrics to health authorities on Friday, January 22nd:
- There were three new deaths reported to the MHC during the week relating to two centres. The MHC has now been notified of a total of 23 deaths of residents of mental health services since the commencement of data compilation in April 2020 (one death reported last week has been removed from the MHC log following confirmation that a sampling contamination is thought to have given a false positive).
- There were 57 services (out of a total of 183) reporting suspected or confirmed cases (compared to 55 the previous week).
- There were 109 suspected or confirmed cases relating to residents (compared to 95 the previous week). 87 of these 109 cases are confirmed (compared to 61 the previous week).
There were 196 suspected or confirmed cases relating to staff (compared to 158 the previous week). 182 of these 196 cases have been confirmed (compared to 125 the previous week).
You can read our full statement here.