Responding to reports that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee has not recommended booster shots for healthcare workers at this time, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is calling on the Government to include healthcare workers in their plans for an immediate rollout of the booster vaccination programme, as a health and safety imperative. The INMO has also requested the Health and Safety Authority to reinforce the risk mitigation requirements of the Biological Hazards Directive which is now transposed into Irish law.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“It is disappointing that NIAC have not advised that healthcare workers receive the vaccine at this stage in the booster vaccine campaign. The Government needs to step up now and make the right decision to include healthcare workers in the next phase of the vaccination campaign.
“In the last month the number of COVID infections has increased amongst healthcare workers, with nurses and midwives representing the highest cohort of those infected. In the last month over 371 nurses and midwives were infected.
“Many in the over-60 cohort that NIAC has recommended receive a booster in the coming weeks would have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Many healthcare workers received this vaccine in late January and February. They should be prioritised for an MRNA vaccine booster.
“Healthcare workers are receiving vaccine boosters in Northern Ireland, England, Canada, South Africa and many parts of the USA. Why are we not following their lead? Why are we contemplating delaying protecting those on the frontline who are already working in overcrowded conditions?
“Our members have been on the frontline dealing with non-COVID and COVID patients. Our hospitals are not just full, they are overcrowded. This airborne infection poses a high risk of breakthrough infection to those already vaccinated, and the health services are obliged, in accordance with the Safety Health and Welfare protocol dealing with the biological hazard covid 19, to provide all necessary protections, including vaccines, where they are available, to afford maximum protections available to those exposed to this hazard. This therefore is a legal requirement on the employer to provide boosters to frontline healthcare workers in our view.”