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Some are missing Covid-19 vaccine appointments as they believe text is ‘a scam’

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Some people have missed their Covid-19 vaccination appointment because they thought the text received from the HSE wa a scam, a TD is claiming.

The text message from the HSE begins by asking people to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the text.

If the person does not reply to the message, the appointment is not confirmed.

Concerns have been raised over the text alert system as people believe the texts are a scam due to the presentation of the message, and therefore missing their appointments.

Cathal Crowe, a TD for Clare, said a man in his constituency received a text that “looked very suspect”, and the man had to ring the vaccination centre to verify the vaccination appointment text.

Mr Crow said other constituents have contacted him and said “a lot of the constituents are believing it to be a phishing scam, to be not genuine and therefore they’re not replying to it.”

He added that a woman contacted him and said“she didn’t reply to the text, but nonetheless, presented herself for the vaccine at the Radisson Hotel at her scheduled time but couldn’t be vaccinated by staff because she hadn’t replied to the text.

“Others have dismissed it completely and not attended at all”, he said.

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The HSE uses Vodafone to send out the vaccine appointments in bulk messages. However, these messages don’t say they have been sent by the HSE.

This has led to people believing the messages are a scam, as they do not look verified.

Mr Crowe said one woman had told him she received a text message from a local auctioneering company advertising an auction, and a few weeks later received her vaccination appointment text from the “identical number”.

He said this is “leading to people not trusting the legitimacy of the message”.

A spokesperson for the HSE said the people that are invited to come for vaccination are managed at the local level and the problem with the text messages is a “local issue”.

In March, Gardaí urged people to be on alert over possible Covid-19 vaccination scams after people received fraudulent text messages.

In early 2021, text messages were sent to people asking for private information such as PPS number, date of birth, address and full name.

The HSE said they will never ask for this information or money by text, and people need only reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the text message.

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