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26th Feb 2021

Irish woman with cystic fibrosis fighting for people with chronic illness to be moved up vaccine priority list

“I’ve been told to cocoon for 12 months because I’m high risk.”

The Covid-19 vaccine timetable was revised this week, and some people with underlying conditions have still not been moved up the priority list. 29 year old Aoife Rafter is one of those people.

Aoife tells Her she was disappointed to hear the news on Wednesday that she still doesn’t have a clear idea of when she can get the vaccine – and leave her house safely.

“I thought that I would be moved up to short 4 because I have cystic fibrosis, there’s only 1300 people with cystic fibrosis in Ireland,” she says.


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A post shared by Aoife P. Rafter (@aoife.p.r)

“We have the highest rate [of CF] per capita in the entire world. I assumed at the very least cystic fibrosis would be moved up into this new more urgent group. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“We’re only one tiny part of the puzzle, there’s so many people with different diseases that are being excluded.”

Like many with an underlying condition, Aoife has been cocooning for 12 months with no vaccine date in sight. Just weeks before the pandemic hit, she had finished treatment for cervical cancer and also had a hysterectomy.

“I literally was just starting to get my life back together after all my cancer treatment,” she says. “Then Covid came to Ireland and lockdowns were announced in March. I’ve been cocooning ever since then.

“At the very same time I was also going through the menopause because of my cancer treatment, so it was really difficult.”


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A post shared by Aoife P. Rafter (@aoife.p.r)

Aoife is part of the Vaccines4Vulnerable campaign, a new movement aimed at tackling the inequality in vaccine distribution among the vulnerable in Ireland.


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A post shared by Aoife P. Rafter (@aoife.p.r)

“The hope is to include a lot more people, at least everybody with CF, it’s a very small population,” Aoife says.

“At the moment you only get moved up if you have sever liver disease, kidney disease, neurological diseases. But we want people that are chronic as well to go into that category, because those people are in and out of hospital the whole time for treatment.”

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