Covid-19: Parents criticise delays in getting high-risk children vaccinated

HSE says children aged 5-11 with underlying conditions should get appointment in next 24 hours

Parents of children who are at high risk from Covid-19 are fearful that their children are not being prioritised for vaccination.

Many parents have taken to social media to say they registered their child more than a week ago on the HSE vaccination portal but were yet to receive an appointment.

The portal officially opened on December 28th for high-risk children aged 5-11. However, some parents registered their children on the 27th after they realised the portal was open a day earlier than advertised.

Hospital Report

Colleen Quinn and Cormac Russell from Clonskeagh in Dublin registered their 11-year-old son on December 27th.


He has a congenital heart defect and has had two open heart surgeries.

“On the portal, there was no way to indicate what his medical condition was. Basically anyone could register,” said Ms Quinn.

They were hopeful their son would have one dose before returning to school, but he is still waiting for an appointment.

“Two days ago, I rang the HSE line, they said they will now flag him as having an underlying condition that makes him high risk,” said Ms Quinn.

She rang the HSE again on Wednesday, who told her to wait for another seven days and she should hear something by then.

The family spent Christmas alone to shield from Omicron, and only saw some family members outdoors.

Mr Russell said children with medical conditions have been left behind completely because the messaging is “schools are safe” and children are not badly affected by Covid-19.

He said vaccination is key to allowing his son to return to school safely. “[Medically vulnerable children] have already suffered disproportionately, they should not lose out on education. This is down to incompetence.”

Maxine Walsh from Tallaght in Dublin registered her son Noah for a vaccine more than a week ago. Noah is 11 years old and has a heart condition.

She heard that the portal opened on December 27th from a friend, who told her the link was shared widely in parenting groups on social media.

She registered Noah on the evening of the 27th, but said there was no way to indicate whether her son had an underlying condition.

“I think thousands of people registered their children who didn’t have an underlying condition, and I don’t blame them.”

Ms Walsh rang the HSE helpline after a week of waiting, and they flagged her son as an urgent case.

After making her situation public on Twitter, a pharmacist working in a vaccine centre in Dublin contacted Ms Walsh and gave Noah the jab on Wednesday.

“Other parents in similar situations were contacted by other nurses and pharmacists, saying they would help... it is ridiculous that it has happened this way.”

She also worries about the children whose parents can’t advocate for them, adding that she knows of children with no underlying conditions who have received appointments through the HSE system, with some already getting the jab.

“They way the system was set up is the problem, not the doctors, nurses or people on the phones... it is just carelessness.”

In a statement, the HSE said that all high risk children should receive a vaccine appointment in the next 24 hours.

“To date, just over 5,000 children 5-11 years old have been vaccinated,” the HSE said.

It said that vaccine centres had been asked to issue appointments “without delay” to children at high risk, and these clinics are expected to take place over the coming days.

A portal on which to register all other 5-11 year olds opened on Monday and “this weekend coming dedicated child-friendly clinics will be in operation for this group,” it said.