‘Think about others’: Medical bodies call on public to stay home if showing Covid symptoms

Call comes as doctors encourage more members of older cohorts to avail of additional vaccine boosters

Representatives for the two main organisations for the medical profession have called on the public to stay at home if they are experiencing any symptoms which could be Covid-19.

Dr Denis McCauley of the Irish Medical Organisation and Dr Nuala O’Connor of the Irish College of General Practitioners both told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the public should assume that any symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, blocked nose, were actually Covid-19 and stay at home. “It would be selfish to go out”, said Dr McCauley.

Dr O’Connor pointed out that by the time people attend their GP with symptoms they are two to three days into their infection, but had attended social events or went to work and spread the infection. “Even if it’s not Covid it is an infection and people are still vulnerable”, she added. Parents should not send their children to summer camp or allow them to attend parties.

“Think about others, stay at home.”

Both doctors reported a lower response from the over-70s cohort who were entitled to their second booster. There had been 95 per cent uptake of the first dose, but only 50 per cent for the second booster. The vaccine was a very important mitigating factor for treatment, said Dr McCauley. When asked should the second booster be made available to under 65s, he said he did not know and that was why the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had asked the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) if it was appropriate for that age cohort.

Vaccination for high risk groups was really important, he said. As for other age groups, “we will have to wait to see what the experts say”. There appeared to be vaccine fatigue, he cautioned. Some also had refused the booster because it was Moderna when previously they had received Pfizer. Anything that stops people from taking the second booster was an issue.

It was important to “gear up” for October and for people to get their booster before the winter. Dr O’Connor repeated the call for people to get their second booster as the rising Covid numbers were putting pressure on hospital services and displacing other care.

The booster vaccine protected against ending up in hospital and death and there were enormous benefits to getting boosted, she said.