Healthcare workers who refuse to take a Covid-19 vaccine may face redeployment, under new proposals being examined by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The Irish Times reports that there are no plans to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers.
Staff who do not confirm their vaccination could instead be moved out of patient contact following a risk assessment, under proposals being finalised.
However, staff shortages or specialised qualifications could allow some unvaccinated workers to escape redeployment.
As vaccination is an opt-in process, the HSE does not know how many staff have refused inoculation. It says over 90 per cent of frontline healthcare workers have taken up an offer of vaccination.
Some healthcare workers have said they wish to choose which Covid vaccine they take, but the HSE has told unions this is not possible.
While patients are entitled to ask about the vaccination status of a healthcare worker, there is no obligation on the staff member to disclose what is regarded as sensitive personal health information.
Although cases of Covid-19 among healthcare workers have plummeted since mass vaccination started, 146 cases were reported in this cohort in the second half of April.
Last month, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) proposed a phased approach to healthcare workers who opt not to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
This would begin with the provision of information, one-to-one conversations, testing and additional PPE.
It comes as Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is to consult the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on the latest revisions proposed for the State’s vaccine programme.
The HSE has outlined a plan that will stick to the current age-based approach, but offer vaccines to younger people currently generally recommended only for the over-50s.
The latest figures given to Cabinet on Tuesday reveal that one in four people in the 60 to 69 age group have not yet registered through the online portal for a vaccine.
A Government spokesperson said more than 311,000 people (74 per cent) in this age group have registered and the portal remains open for people who have not signed up.
As of May 2nd, some 31 per cent of the population had been administered with at least one vaccine dose and 12 per cent of adults are now fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Ireland is set to receive at least 4.8 million vaccines each year in 2022 and 2023 under a new deal struck between Pfizer and the EU.