The Minister for Education Norma Foley (Photo: Merrion Street/Twitter)
The Minister for Education has asked for an explanation by the National Immunisation Advisory Council (NIAC) should explain the rationale behind changes to the vaccine priority list.
The National Vaccination Programme is to be changed to an age-based system, once those aged 70 years and older, the vulnerable and people with underlying conditions are immunised.
NIAC’s advice to the Government is that an aged based system would be simpler from an administration viewpoint and also fairer.
Unions and professional groups have lobbied to be moved up the current vaccination schedule.
However, this new advice from NIAC is that no occupational group is at higher risk of disease or death from Covid-19.
Yesterday, Dr Karina Butler, chair of NIAC, said that people aged 60-64 have a seventy-times greater risk of dying from Covid-19, compared to someone aged 20-34.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, she said the "most appropriate thing is to vaccinate in those age-based cohorts", because they want to keep everyone safe from a bad outcome and protect the healthcare system.”
The ASTI has said it is shocked and dismayed by reports of a Government decision to abandon the vaccination of key workers, including school staff, as part of the national vaccination programme.
The president of the Garda Representative Association said gardaí are infuriated and dismayed at the changes.
Last night, Minister Norma Foley told the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that it would be "helpful" if NIAC explained the rationale behind the move.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that she fails to see how it can be argued that SNAs, gardaí, teachers and retail staff do not face higher risk.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said: "There are a lot of frontline essential workers in education, childcare, policing and retail who will be concerned that they no longer have any priority under the vaccination programme."