Elected representatives have a responsibility to encourage vaccine confidence and must stop scaremongering about the vital COVID-19 vaccine, the Leader of Seanad Éireann has said.
Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty was speaking following comments this week by a number of Oireachtas members attempting to raise doubts about the vaccine.
Senator Doherty said: “Elected representatives have a responsibility to the people in their communities that put them in their position.
“We all have a duty to respect and promote public health advice because it is in the interests of all in society. Never before has this been so evident than during this global pandemic.
“It concerns me greatly to hear three Oireachtas members casting doubt over the vaccine and trying to drum up unfounded fears.
“Michael Collins recently questioned the ingredients in the vaccine, and in the process tried to ramp up concerns about the vaccine more widely.
“Mattie McGrath is trying to drum up fears at the speed of the arrival of the immunisation programme. Surely he is aware that there has been an unprecedented global scientific effort to bring about this lifesaving vaccine.
“Danny Healy Rae, hardly a noted friend of science, this week challenged other politicians including the Taoiseach to take it first and see what reaction they get, like it’s some sort of game.
“The reality is that the type of trial Danny wants done has been done, but in a proper scientific way. There has been a huge global effort to trial these vaccines in a responsible and ethical manner.
“Furthermore, Ireland is rightly waiting for the vaccine to be approved by the European Medicines Agency before it is introduced here.
“It’s time we heard more from public representatives to spread vaccine confidence instead of engaging in this type of irresponsible scaremongering”, Senator Doherty concluded.