All three teachers’ unions seek meeting with government, NPHET and NIAC over vaccine roll out

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The unions say the meeting would explore “creative solutions” to guarantee that schools can remain open.

ALL THREE TEACHERS’ unions have written a letter to the Department of Education demanding a meeting with government and public health officials to discuss Covid-19 vaccine prioritisation.

The ASTI, INTO and TUI issued a joint statement today demanding an “urgent” meeting to discuss teachers’ concerns about the change to the roll out that will see the jabs administered based on age rather than profession.

The move has angered teachers, who argue that they face significant risk of infection due to their exposure to students in settings where ventilation may be poor and social distancing is difficult.

Earlier this week, the unions voted in favour of an emergency motion backing industrial action, up to and including strike action, if they are not prioritised for vaccination.

“At all times, the unions have made clear that they are not looking for prioritisation ahead of vulnerable and high-risk adults or frontline healthcare workers,” today’s statement says.

The unions say the meeting would allow the concerns of teachers, including those who are pregnant or considered high-risk, to be expressed and it would “explore creative solutions to guarantee our schools can remain open in the face of the ongoing pandemic”.

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The unions requested that the meeting should include officials from key government departments, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

“It remains the view of the three teacher unions and of many other unions, associations, and representative groups that a parallel process of vaccination for those who live and work in crowded settings which are essential to maintaining public services should be organised alongside the age-based approach to the inoculation of those aged between 64 and 16,” the statement adds.

Earlier this week, the Minister for Education Norma Foley said NIAC’s recommendation on vaccine prioritisation is “very, very clear” and all evidence points to the fact that people are most vulnerable to Covid-19 based on their age.

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