Trade unions have hit out at the Government's new approach to its Covid-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy which will see an age-based approach taken to vaccination.
Fórsa, which represents special needs assistants, said that the vaccination policy had promised to ensure SNAs “would be within the first 30% of the population to receive the jab”.
The ASTI has said it is "shocked and dismayed" by the decision, while the INTO said: “It is essential that teachers and all key workers should continue to be prioritised once vulnerable people and the elderly are vaccinated."
The vaccination of those aged over 70 and of those aged 16 to 69 at very high risk from Covid-19 due to specific medical conditions is currently underway.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the move to an allocation strategy focused largely on clinical risk "makes Ireland’s vaccination programme more efficient, more transparent and fairer".
“We have the benefit of learning from our own experience over the past three months, and what has been shown to be most effective internationally.
It means for the first time that we can give better information to the very reasonable question ‘when will I be vaccinated?
The memo on the decision was brought to Cabinet by Minister Donnelly on foot of advice from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn and National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
During the announcement of the phased easing of restrictions over the next month, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that by the middle of April, all over 70s will have had their first dose, and by mid to late May all over 70s will be fully vaccinated.
He said that despite difficulties in the international supply of the vaccine, he expects that close to one million doses of the vaccine will have been administered in Ireland by next week, after which he said the plan is to “pick up the pace even further”.
“Close to three million doses will be administered by the end of May. Nearly five million doses by early July. Six million doses by the end of July,” he said.