Covid-19 vaccine portal does not allow for non-white Irish ethnic background
No option to choose ‘Black Irish’ or ‘Asian Irish’ as is offered on CSO Census form
a HSE spokeswoman said it was reviewing the list of options based on the feedback it had received and would update it accordingly. Photograph: Getty
The HSE is to change its online Covid-19 vaccination portal after a user pointed out it does not allow those registering to enter a non-white Irish ethnic background.
The service, which has been used by hundreds of thousands of people during the vaccine rollout, allows applicants to self-describe as “Irish”, “Irish Traveller” or “other White Background”.
Other options for answering the question “What is your ethnic background?” include “African”, “Roma”, “Chinese” and “Other”.
The question is optional, but there is no option to choose the like of “Black Irish” or “Asian Irish”, as is offered on the form for the regular Census conducted by the Central Statistics Office.
“This error arises due to an omission from the Census questions. The subheadings of backgrounds given in the Census are missing, leaving the only option for Irish being ‘Irish’ ‘’Irish Traveller’ or ‘other White Background’. All other headings, therefore, being ‘not Irish’,” according to Brendan Hennessy, who has raised the issue with the HSE.
Responding, a HSE spokeswoman said it was reviewing the list of options based on the feedback it had received and would update it accordingly. This may take a number of weeks “as we prioritise updates on the website regarding services for our patients and service-users”.
“I am extremely conscious the HSE have a lot on their plate right now, but I am also equally sure they would not want this genuine error to persist,” Mr Hennessy told The Irish Times.
Because the vaccine rollout is proceeding by reverse age, Mr Hennessy believes “not too many” people will have been affected, but those who were could be allowed to amend their details retrospectively on the portal.
A policy worker with the St Vincent de Paul in Cork and a father of two adopted children from Ethiopia, he previously raised a similar issue with the Department of Education. The department added a supplementary form to its primary level online database after Mr Hennessy pointed out it had only one category of “Irish” on the original questionnaire.