Nineteen of 24 TDs in their 60s signal yes to Astra Zeneca jab

Independent Mattie McGrath and FF ’s John McGuinness non-committal on seeking shot

Social Democrats co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy said they would take AstraZeneca if offered.  Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

Social Democrats co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy said they would take AstraZeneca if offered. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

 

The vast majority of TDs in their 60s say they will sign up for a Covid-19 vaccination and would accept an AstraZeneca jab if it is what they are offered.

An Irish Times survey found 19 of the 24 TDs – almost 80 per cent of those who fall into the 60-to-69 age bracket – will register for the vaccination.

Two TDs – Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath and Fianna Fáil’s Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness – would not say whether or not they will seek to be inoculated.

Three others – Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly, Michael Ring of Fine Gael and Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley did not respond.    

Plans for Ireland’s vaccine rollout changed after the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to rare blood clots among people under 60. 

Health authorities have insisted that the risks associated with catching Covid-19 outweigh any potential issues concerning the AstraZeneca shot – particularly for the 60 to 69 age group it is to be offered to. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed last week that he would “absolutely” take the AstraZeneca vaccine. Several other TDs from across the political spectrum said they would do likewise if they are offered the jab, though two declined to answer the questions in the survey.

Mr McGrath said: “It’s a matter for myself.”

Mr MGuinness also declined to say if he will seek the vaccine saying: “I consider anything to do with my health to be personal.

“Having said that I’ve taken vaccinations so I don’t raise any issues with AstraZeneca or any of the other vaccinations.” 

Of those who confirmed they will seek the vaccine Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said: “I was offered the AstraZeneca vaccine and happy to take it.”

Former Fine Gael minister Richard Bruton said he would take AstraZeneca.

“For a person of my age, the risk of fatality from a blood clot, estimated at one in a million, is far lower than the proven death toll of close to 5,000 from a great deal less than one million who have so far been infected [with Covid-19].”

His former cabinet colleague Charlie Flanagan said he was “looking forward to the jab”. He confirmed he would take AstraZeneca if offered and said: “I urge all my constituents and beyond to do likewise.”

Social Democrats co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall said they would take AstraZeneca if it’s what they are offered because the benefits outweigh the risks.

Low risks

Ms Murphy said it’s “important we vaccinate more than 70 per cent of the population in order that we can safely return to a more normal life for all”.

Former Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said: “I’m happy to sign up and receive AstraZeneca when I can. Only issue for me and many in my cohort is 12-week interval between doses, which I sincerely hope will be shortened.”

Sinn Féin Wexford TD Johnny Mythen said he would take AstraZeneca, adding that the risks were low.

“When you look at the odds. If you got that in the bookies you wouldn’t mind going down and putting a few bob on it.”

Sligo-Leitrim Independent TD Marian Harkin said the reason she would take a vaccine was to “protect myself, my family and friends and to play my part in helping to establish herd immunity”.

Other TDs in their 60s who confirmed they will seek vaccination, and take AstraZeneca if offered it, were: Seán Fleming, Willie O’Dea, Brendan Smith, Seán Crowe, Dessie Ellis, Colm Burke, David Stanton, Seán Canney, Danny Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry.