At a Fianna Fáil parliamentary meeting on the 30th of June, Cork East TD, James O’Connor, who is the youngest member of Dáil Éireann, suggested that everyone born since 1996 should get €150 when they get vaccinated. This was an attempt to encourage the youth to get vaccinated as it was believed that there would be vaccine hesitancy among that cohort.
However, yesterday, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly announced that from Monday, community pharmacies can start vaccinating 18–34-year-olds with the one shot Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. This was because the Delta Variant makes up over 70% of cases in Ireland and there were many vaccines going to waste.
Many pharmacies were not informed of this decision, however, there were pharmacies that were prepared. In Meath, Haven Pharmacy in Duleek was taking down names for leftover vaccines, long before the government officially announced it.
However, there was no need to bribe that age cohort. Boots Pharmacies in Navan, Ashbourne and Drogheda were all booked out of vaccine slots by 11 am, with only a limited amount of vaccine slots available in Dublin city centre, mainly in Jervis and Ilac shopping centres. Eventually, by 4 pm, Boots had to temporarily close down bookings for this vaccine service as all available appointments were booked. Many who had booked with Boots initially, received a text saying they had to cancel it.
Haven Pharmacy in Duleek claimed they were experiencing an “unprecedented number of phone calls about the vaccine for 18-34 year olds” and asked people to be patient.
Hickey’s Pharmacy and Slane Pharmacy encouraged people to book online on their website, rather than calling them but warned that they only had limited supplies available.
While not Meath related, a pharmacy in Castleknock, while they were not offering any vaccine services, encouraged a customer yesterday to book a vaccine immediately in the Blakestown or Tyrrelstown area, and to not wait until later, as they feared that every pharmacy in Ireland would be booked up.
Approximately 550k people are aged between 18-29. If everyone signed up for their vaccine and the government followed O’Connor’s suggestion, the State would be paying out over 80 million to young people to get their vaccine.
With the young constantly being demonized as “covid spreaders” and “party animals”, I don’t think many young people will dismiss a chance to finally be somewhat protected from the virus. Being fully vaccinated also opens up opportunities such as indoor dining and holidays abroad.
There clearly isn’t vaccine hesitancy among the youth and many pharmacies can attest to that. But if O’Connor is still offering that €150, I am sure many would not refuse!