Concern over delays in vaccinating over-65s in mental health centres

Many centres yet to receive vaccination schedule from HSE, says commission

The Mental Health Commission has said it is concerned over delays in vaccinating over-65s against coronavirus at many of the centres it regulates.

Not all mental health services providing care for people over 65 have received their vaccinations, the commission said.

"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," according to the commission's director of regulation, Gary Kiernan.

“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.”


Nationally, there are about 26 long-stay and nine acute mental health units with a combined bed capacity of 700 for use by residents aged over 65.


The commission said the HSE had given assurances that this group would be prioritised, with residents and staff receiving the vaccine by the end of the January.

A HSE spokeswoman said the administration of first doses for residents aged 65 and over would be completed this week at all disability and mental health congregated settings.

Vaccination schedules may be impacted by outbreaks “but every effort is made to vaccinate residents and staff where it is possible to do so safely”.

However, due to “limitations of vaccine supply it is not possible to administer vaccine to all staff working in all residential care services in disability services at this time”.

“Staff who do not receive the vaccine in the coming week will be included in the vaccination programme for frontline healthcare workers which will continue in February as vaccine supply increases.”

Covid-19 cases in mental health units continue to rise, with 269 cases among residents among staff and residents by last Friday. The commission was also notified for three further deaths in two centres.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times