Government must extend vaccine booster to health care workers

The HSE Staff Panel of Trade Unions has expressed its deep concern that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has not made a decision to give healthcare workers booster vaccines at this time.

The health sector unions have written to Health Service Executive (HSE) management to request that healthcare workers are offered the opportunity to avail of a booster vaccine.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Union representatives have been advised by the HSE that there is no issue with regards to the supply of vaccines to provide a booster dose, that they would be available to roll out a booster program from early November and that it would take three weeks to complete. However, it is awaiting NIAC approval.

“Therefore, we find it inexplicable that health care workers who are working on the frontline against Covid-19 and, within the context of growing community and hospital transmission, are not being offered the option of a booster vaccine.”

He added: “Frontline healthcare workers were one of the first cohort to receive the vaccine in early 2021 and after 6 months they can receive a booster. They are now well beyond that timeline. Current reports clearly indicate that a growing number of healthcare workers are being infected with Covid-19. The health sector unions are adamant that healthcare workers should have the option of a third booster vaccination as quickly as possible.

“In addition, the HSE will also be aware of the severe pressure on the health system, with severe overcrowding in many acute hospitals. The current risk to health care workers is simply too high. The HSE must take steps to address this situation and to ensure that healthcare workers are protected.”

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