Changes to vaccine priority list 'extraordinarily disrespectful' - TUI


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.05 31 Mar 2021


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Teachers say that changes to the vaccination priority list are 'extraordinarily disrespectful' to them.

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.

President of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), Martin Marjoram, told Newstalk Breakfast they are angry.

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"We find it really surprising and disappointing that the decision was made without any prior consultation with us.

"We could see the value of clearly vaccinating those who are vulnerable, those who have underlying medical conditions ahead of the rest of the population.

"But to have a decision like this made it's extraordinarily disrespectful, we feel, to teachers who are working extraordinarily hard who have shown great flexibility and patience in keeping education up and running."

He said with teachers due to return to "fully open schools, all the crowded classrooms" from April 12th, this makes it more urgent.

"To be told that they're actually in the same category as those who are working at home, it makes very little sense from our perspective.

"And for a decision like this to be made with no prior consultation has made us very angry".

Host Ciara Kelly pointed to the fact that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) said no profession is at a higher risk, and the single biggest risk is age - meaning older teachers will be vaccinated ahead of others.

On this, Mr Marjoram said: "We had many engagements with the Department of Education, these matters came up - as I've said we did not seek to have ourselves bumped up the vaccination list.

"But when a plan is in place, for that plan to be changed as fundamentally as it has without prior consultation - as a bombshell announcement while we're in the middle of another meeting - we've been reassuring members doing our best to pass along to members what's coming to us from the public health engagements that we've had".

He said they have sought "an urgent engagement" with the department over the change.

Changes to vaccine priority list 'extraordinarily disrespectful' - TUI

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

'A poor decision'

General-secretary of Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham, also criticised the move.

She said: "It's a poor decision when it comes to members of An Garda Síochána.

"As you know we're the only people that are responsible for the enforcement of the health regulations.

"And I think the decision of Government it does show a scant regard for the unique and high-risk job that members of An Garda Síochána have to do in policing COVID-19.

"What we find ironic is that the Taoiseach is asking people to restrict their movements, and not to move freely about or gather in large groups.

"And yet An Garda Síochána are going from COVID call to COVID call, and potentially acting as super-spreaders when it comes to transmissibility.

"That's what we have to do: we have to go into a high-risk environment, we then leave that environment and we go on to the next call.

"I think we do have a very unique case in An Garda Síochána, and we are very disappointed with [the] Government decision".

Also speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien said: "There's no disrespect at all intended to our teachers - our teachers have done an incredible job right the way through, as have many different professions: our guards, our Defence Forces… our staff in supermarkets."

"I absolutely can assure them this is the very best way forward."

He said picking out groups would complicate the process and potentially hinder the delivery.

Changes to vaccine priority list 'extraordinarily disrespectful' - TUI

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: TUI President Martin Marjoram is seen at a press conference in Dublin city in 2016. Picture by: RollingNews.ie

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AGSI Antoinette Cunningham Darragh O'Brien Gardai Martin Marjoram NIAC Newstalk Breakfast TUI Teachers Teachers' Union Of Ireland Vaccine List Vaccine Priority Vaccine Priority List

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