The Education Minister has defended her position that unvaccinated pregnant teachers should return to work.
The country’s three teachers’ unions have condemned the Government’s position on the issue calling for unvaccinated pregnant teachers to be able to work from home.
The current public health advice says pregnant people who are not already vaccinated should not get their first dose until they have reached 14 weeks gestation.
Meanwhile it says they should receive their second dose before 36 weeks and, if they don’t, should wait until after having their baby.
The HSE says the measure is ‘precautionary’ with no evidence of any risk to a baby arising from vaccination.
Speaking this afternoon, Education Minister Norma Foley said the public health advice she has received notes that it is safe for pregnant staff to come to work.
“We asked for the data to be reviewed; the data was reviewed by experts and it is their recommendation,” she said.
“This is not a personal recommendation from me or indeed the Department of Education. This is the recommendation that we are receiving from the experts in the field - public health and occupational health - and we are following that.
In a joint statement this morning, the TUI, ASTI and INTO condemned what they called “the failure to protect staff in early pregnancy”.
They claimed it was “incredible” that teachers were allowed to work from home last year but expected to return to classrooms this year.
“To cause a group of pregnant workers to endure weeks of anxiety and fear is unconscionable,” they said.
“We reiterate today our call for swift action to be taken to permit these workers to work from home and support pupils remotely, until such time as they achieve significant vaccine protection.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Foley said parents can be "very, very reassured" that everything has been done to ensure schools are safe for students.