Union calls for special needs assistants to be vaccinated as soon as possible

Union calls for special needs assistants to be vaccinated as soon as possible

Digital Desk Staff

The union representing Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), Forsa, has called on Government to ensure its members are vaccinated as soon as possible.

As The Irish Times reports, the union is unhappy that the vaccine rollout plan has been changed to one based primarily on age rather than occupation.

Andy Pike, head of the union’s education division, told RTÉ news on Monday: “Many of them will be working alongside healthcare staff, for instance in our special schools, where the nurses, physchiatrists and occupational therapists have all been vaccinated under the HSE rollout yet the SNAs working alongside them day to day will not be vaccinated.

“That’s just not a sustainable situation where you vaccinate half your workforce but the other half you just ignore.”

Meanwhile, talks to defuse a Government row on mandatory quarantine will this week consider an expanded role for quarantining at home and how vaccinations might be used to reduce periods of isolation after travel from certain countries.

Political row

Senior Government sources said talks between officials would take place this week – most likely Tuesday or Wednesday – in an effort to find a compromise after moves to add several EU member states and the US to the list of countries eligible for mandatory hotel quarantine caused a serious political row last week.

The expansion of the list is aimed at minimising the risk of coronavirus “variants of concern” spreading from countries, some of which have strong travel links to the Republic.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is understood to be committed to proceeding, notwithstanding opposition from other Government Ministers, most notably Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

“His view on this is not going to change,” said a well-placed source of Mr Donnelly’s stance.

The leaking of the extended list of countries caused a significant row last week, viewed by some as an attempt to “bounce” the rest of Government into accepting its expansion.

There was significant diplomatic fallout arising from the leak, with one Government source saying it caused “consternation” in European capitals, while another said there was “real annoyance” over how the story had played out.

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