The HSE has advised that some nursing home residents who are older and frail should not be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Irish Examiner reports that the health service has written to nursing homes highlighting possible risks to these residents.
The letter was signed by HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry and was sent to nursing homes on Sunday, some of whom forwarded it on to families.
It refers to an update from the Norwegian Medicines Agency and the Norwegian National Institute of Public Health after the deaths of 23 people, of which 13 have been assessed.
“The reports suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines such as fever and nausea may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some very frail elderly individuals,” the letter said.
It emphasised that deaths would occur from natural causes or background illnesses "during any vaccination campaign".
Email sent by nursing homes this morning. @Sineadmcgar @MlMcNamaraTD @tadhgdaly1 @paulreiddublin @MaryButlerTD
It is most important that correct decisions are made for our family members. There has been to much devastation already in our nursing homes pic.twitter.com/0no2vlH7FH
— residents are our family- Care Champions (@2x2x2V) January 18, 2021
The letter also stresses the need for individual decisions to be taken for each resident and says it would not be appropriate to vaccinate someone who is not expected to live long enough for the vaccine to take effect.
“Given that the benefit from vaccination only begins about 10-14 days following the first dose and full protection is not achieved until 7-14 days following the second dose of vaccine currently in use, it is not appropriate to vaccinate people if their expected duration of life is less than that for the vaccines to take effect,” it said.
The letter also highlights the need to delay vacccination for anyone who has a fever or other temporary illness.
Majella Beatty of the Care Champions advocacy group said it had concerned families.
“It is very worrying for families to get this, they are worried about what to do now. They are worried too to open their mouth in case they are labelled as anti-vaxxers and that is not the case,” she said.
Ms Beatty called for better communication regarding the risks presented to certain older people by vaccination.