Credit: Gript

WATCH: Health Minister slammed for calling TD ‘anti-vaccine’ 

The Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, has been criticised for saying Independent TD, Verona Murphy, was spreading “false” and “anti-vaccine” information after she told the Dáil that “recent studies have shown that a vaccinated person is every bit as likely to transmit this virus as a non-vaccinated person” and asked “therefore, why is the Government continuing to divide society on this basis?”

Deputy Murphy was immediately interrupted by the Minister Donnelly who accused her of spreading false information.

However, according to a widely-reported study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, last week, Covid-19 can still be transmitted in the household after vaccination. The study found that the viral load for unvaccinated people was similar to those who were vaccinated”

Pointing out that “vaccination reduces the risk of delta variant infection and accelerates viral clearance”, researchers also observed that: “nonetheless, fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts.”

The Minister continued to interrupt the Wexford TD, prompting the Leas Ceann Comhairle to tell him that “the constant interruption of Deputy Murphy is unacceptable. Let her finish.”

Minister Donnelly accused the Independent TD of reading “false” data into the record and of making “ridiculous” contributions to the debate,

Verona Murphy said that: “some of the language used by Government ministers over the last few weeks when talking about the unvaccinated have been very discriminatory and sinister,” she said.

Last week Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned fully vaccinated people that there are still risks involved with getting Covid-19 “even if those risks are substantially reduced”.  Chair of NPHET’s Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group, Cillian de Gascun, also said that “whilst vaccination reduces the risk of Delta infection, fully vaccinated individuals have viral loads similar to unvaccinated & can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts.”

Deputy Murphy said that she had a “major concern which needs to be met head-on. Why are Government Members and policies being designed to scapegoat those who decided, for whatever reason, that they did not want, or could not take, the vaccine? We have the highest vaccination rates in Europe. I would like to commend all of the hard-working staff in all of the vaccination centres who have been very confident in their roll out of the vaccine programme. The constant scapegoating of the unvaccinated does not stand up to scrutiny or evidence and is completely unwarranted.”

“Every time we see evidence of a failure in Government policy, the narrative shifts to find the latest random thing to blame it on,” she asserted.

The number of people infected with Covid continues to rise despite a vaccination rate of more than 91%. However, the vaccines are giving protection against hospitalisations and very serious illness, authorities believe.

On Twitter, the Minister was slammed for calling another TD “anti-vaccine”.

“Absolutely disgusting behaviour from Stephen Donnelly today, interrupting and shouting down Verona Murphy, calling her antivax, as she points out that vaxxed people are just as likely to spread covid if infected as unvaxxed people,” one commentator wrote.

Several accused Stephen Donnelly of “misogynistic” behaviour.

Deputy Murphy strongly rejected the criticism, telling the Dáil that there was “nothing anti-vax” about her assertions. She added that some of her constituents were unable to take a vaccine.

“The stupidity of telling people they can attend weddings without certs and the same people then cannot actually go out and go to a restaurant the next day because they’re being labelled as unvaccinated,” she said.

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