No room for complacency: Older vaccinated patients warned to be vigilant about Covid infection

Doctors are warning older vaccinated patients to remain vigilant against Covid-19 as they are still at risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.

t comes as public health experts signalled Ireland is reaching a turning point in the pandemic.

Dr Ray Walley warned that one of his elderly patients is in hospital with the Delta variant of the virus after apparently becoming infected at a large retail outlet in north Dublin.

Separately, Dr Rita Doyle, former president of the Irish Medical
Council, warned a “very fit and strong” 80-year-old patient who was double vaccinated tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

In a tweet yesterday, Dr Doyle said the test followed a meeting in a garden with someone who turned out to be a positive case.

“You cannot be over-cautious,” Dr Doyle warned in a tweet.

“Remember the rules — 2m apart/wear your mask and wash your hand — Covid is everywhere.”

Dr Ray Walley, who sits on a national GP advisory group on the virus, this weekend said Covid complacency was creeping in to the public’s response to the virus.

His patient, who was admitted to hospital, was “at a very large retailer and the person felt they acquired the Covid in that store because people around them were not wearing a mask”.

“It is important people are aware of the level of Covid-19 in their own community,” he said.

“This variant is more dangerous than the variant we dealt with before and we need to be cautious and vigilant.

“What we do know is if people are exposed to lots of viral particles, irrespective of the vaccine, they can still get Covid-19.”

Dr Denis McCauley, who chairs the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP
committee, said: “If you are fully vaccinated you have a 90pc chance of being fine.

“If you have an immune deficiency, if the vaccine was not of a good quality or if you were exposed to a high dose of Covid, the vaccine protects you but it does not offer 100pc protection.

Dr McCauley, who is also the coroner for Donegal, said vaccines still offer the best protection.

“We are aware of deaths occurring in Donegal of people who have not been vaccinated,” he said.

The rapid trajectory of the Delta variant, now the dominant strain of the virus, has caused concern worldwide.

An internal report by the US Centres for Disease Control described the Covid Delta variant as more infectious than chicken pox and warned it is more likely to “breakthrough” in vaccinated people.

The Health Service Executive’s chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has previously said one in five patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are vaccinated.

In an interview with RTÉ Radio recently, Ms O’Connor noted outcomes for patients who are vaccinated are better than for those who are not.

“The vaccine has transformed the disease progression so even for people who are admitted to hospital who are vaccinated their outcomes are better so they’re not becoming as sick so that is a really positive thing,” she said.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been monitoring the numbers of vaccinated people who contract Covid-19 — known as “breakthrough” cases.

However, the ransomware attack that shut down the HSE’s computer systems in April has impeded its work.

In a statement, the HSE said all Covid-19 vaccines currently in use are highly effective at reducing the risk of severe infection, hospitalisation and death from the virus.

But these do not completely eliminate the risk of infection, it said.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Friday the “incredible uptake” of vaccinations across many age groups is “leading Ireland to a turning point in the pandemic”.

He was speaking ahead of the opening of vaccine walk-in centres around the country for those aged 16 and over.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday praised the “positive uptake” as hundreds of young people queued for shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

The walk-in clinics are open to anyone over the age of 16 who has not yet received their first dose.

More than 5.8 million shots of vaccine have been administered and more than 71pc of adults are fully vaccinated.

Children aged 12 to 16 are expected to be offered vaccinations this month.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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