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HSE issues new guidelines for vaccinating health workers in Ireland against COVID-19

DUBLIN: The HSE yesterday released new guidelines for vaccinating health workers in Ireland against COVID-19. The HSE asks all frontline workers to register on an online portal to schedule vaccination appointment. It also said that the new online portal will come into effect from next Tuesday.

The HSE report states that AstraZeneca vaccines will be given to frontline healthcare workers. AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses. There is evidence that higher effectiveness has been achieved with an interval of 12 weeks between the first and second doses for those under 65 years of age. At the same time, the HSE report says that the interval for 65-70 year olds will be six weeks.

The HSE also mentioned the sequence to apply for the vaccination of healthcare workers in its own facilities or in private hospitals/clinics and other community-based not-for-profit and private healthcare providers not directly funded by the HSE who have not already received a vaccine.

The HSE confirmed that the sequence for vaccination would be based on the type of work done by health workers as well as the setting.

“Healthcare workers from all staff groupings who work in the units, wards or services, community settings, day, residential and respite services all the time, or [those] who attend occasionally must be included. Examples of these are support staff, agency staff, students, administration staff, volunteers and other healthcare professionals (physiotherapists, public health nurses, speech and language therapists, home support workers, radiologists, pharmacists, etc).”

“Healthcare workers who usually work in these roles but who are currently out of work due to, for example, sick leave, high- or higher-risk medical status, maternity leave etc. must be included for vaccination in the relevant groups/cohorts,” the HSE stated.

The above mentioned are healthcare workers in a congregated care setting in contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient or service user where there is potential for active transmission of the virus.

At the same time, the next category includes health care workers who regularly interact with unscheduled patients or service users in a semi-controlled setting. These are mainly people who see patients or service users through appointments. But they also need to see urgent unscheduled patients or service users from time to time. Urgent care facility clinical staff, GP practice staff – GPs and practice nurses – as well as dentists and dental nurses providing emergency dental care are included in this group.

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