HSE warns over 'extremely risky and dangerous' practice in midlands

The HSE Public Health Midlands is warning against the practice of young people acquiring Covid-19 intentionally in order to qualify for a Covid Digital Certificate.

In a statement, Dr Douglas Hamilton, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the Department of Public Health in the Midlands, said the issue had come to their attention recently.

It said: “It also has come to our attention that recently a number of teenagers and young adults may have acquired Covid-19 intentionally at social events. The objective may have been to acquire Covid-19 in order to quickly qualify for a Covid Digital Certificate.”

Dr Hamilton warned people that this practice was “ extremely risky and dangerous”.

He said the currently circulating Delta variant has higher morbidity and mortality rates, also for the young and he highlighted higher rates of “long Covid”, which can potentially result in lifelong cardiac, respiratory, cerebral or renal disease.

“ It also carries a high risk of onwards spread to elderly and other vulnerable people, who may not have mounted as good an immune response to vaccination as younger and fully fit people, putting them at risk of serious disease.

“We strongly advise against any such practice,” says Dr Hamilton. “Moreover, vaccination provides better immunity than infection. We therefore advise that young people (18 to 24 years old) register as soon as possible to get vaccinated.”

HSE Public Health Midlands is also advising against large social gatherings and is urging people to continue to adhere to public health guidelines.

There are three options for young people to get vaccinated:

On the vaccination portal (https://vaccine.hse.ie/#register) with a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address.

Those who don’t have a PPS number, or prefer to use the phone, can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 to register. Everyone who registers online or by phone will be offered an mRNA vaccine - either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - when it is available. People waiting for their first vaccination appointment will also have a choice to opt in or out of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is available earlier than an mRNA vaccine.

Book a Janssen vaccine appointment (single dose) at a participating pharmacy (https://www2.hse.ie/Apps/Services/PharmaciesServiceList.aspx).