Young people on Covid: ‘The burden of responsibility is always on the same groups’

Holohan advises unboosted youth to avoid ‘uneccesary contact’ with people outside household

For many young people, it’s not a white Christmas they’re dreaming of, but, rather, one in which they’re allowed to see people outside of their households.

The incidence of Covid-19 in the 16 to 34-year-old age group has increased “sharply” in the last week, a situation which has been attributed, in part, to the Omicron variant.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on Monday said the high level of disease in the age group represents "a high risk to those they come into contact with who have yet to be vaccinated or receive their booster".

Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland
10,232,590 9,107,139

“Therefore, if you have not yet received your booster you are best to avoid unnecessary contact with people outside your household,” he added.

The comments were met with upset by many people in the age group, particularly given vaccination centres are currently only offering boosters to those over 40.

Mark O’Donnell, president of TU Dublin’s Students’ Union, said there is an “awful lot of mixed feelings” among those in their 20s about the latest comments around the pandemic.

“There is a lot of concern around in-person exams, for example. There are a huge number of students who are very worried about contracting the virus or passing it onto people in their families that are vulnerable,” he said.

“But similarly, there are many people who are very, very frustrated that we are this long into living with the virus and we’re back to pubs being shut early, not being able to go to the cinema after eight after work, and just not being able to have a reasonable social life.”

Mr O’Donnell said while he can’t speak for all young people, those he has spoken with have expressed frustration and fatigue that the “burden of responsibility is on the same groups of people each time there’s a new wave”.

‘I’m fed up’

On the streets of Dublin on Tuesday morning, many other people in this age cohort felt the same.

Oscar Quinn (22) said the "majority of young people are following the rules and regulations, and it's like a bold kid in the class and the whole class is punished".

Mr Quinn received the one-shot Janssen vaccine and he now feels “vulnerable” due to its low efficacy.

Immunologists have called for recipients of this vaccine to prioritised for boosters due to its waning immunity.

“I thought they would give it to us first. It seems like nobody is vaccinated again – it is difficult to understand,” Mr Quinn added.

Advising the younger population to limit their socialising, he said, is “not right. Humanity is looking forward to socialising”.

However, despite everyone in his family being boosted, Mr Quinn said he will follow Dr Holohan’s advice by not going out over the Christmas period because there are vulnerable people in his family, including his grandmother.

Rebecca Treanor (23) said advising young people to cut their social interactions is "unfair" and "could push young people out of the country".

“I totally understand the health implications but they probably should be pushing the booster on young people,” she added.

Wayne Moran (25) said he can see the health reasons behind the most recent comments, but described the current pandemic situation as a "disaster".

“Socialising is important for mental health, but that seems to be forgotten about lately,” the Longford man said.

He said it is unfair of the Government to tell young people to cut their social interactions, particularly if a booster has not been offered to them yet.

“I’m fed up at this point, it’s doing more harm than good,” he added.

Grace Murphy from Dublin said she will be taking the booster when it is offered, but she will be socialising over the Christmas period.

“We’ve already been through so much, we’re already mixing in school so what’s the difference?”