No data available on numbers of unvaccinated teachers

Department believes ‘vast majority’ of staff will be vaccinated before schools restart

A large majority of teachers are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the new school year but no data is available regarding the numbers of those who will not be vaccinated.

On Tuesday, the Department of Education said it anticipated the “vast majority” of all teachers and school staff generally will have been offered and will have accepted vaccines before schools reopen.

“Those who are not vaccinated are not precluded from safely attending the workplace, where robust infection prevention and control measures are remaining in place for this school year,” a spokeswoman said.

“And [they] will be expected to do so, with the exception of a very small number of employees who may be deemed at very high risk by the occupational health service.”


About 90 per cent of the State’s adult population have now had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 70-75 per cent are at least seven days after a second dose.

While concerns have been widely expressed regarding teachers in early pregnancy who cannot yet avail of the protection from vaccines, as for pregnant women vaccination is advised only after 14 weeks’ gestation, none of the three main teaching unions have hard data on the numbers of teachers who have simply declined vaccines.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) also said it believes the "vast majority" have taken part in the vaccine programme.

“In recent weeks we have been contacted by teachers who are in the early weeks of pregnancy and who are not yet vaccinated/fully vaccinated . . . We have encouraged all our members to engage with public health advice and information regarding the vaccination programme.”

Take-up levels

Similarly, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said it has no firm numbers but believes its members’ vaccine take-up levels are as high as those of the broader population.

"If anything, maybe a little bit higher," said TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie. "They know that they are meeting 250 people [in school settings]; they don't have the choice of say some office workers who don't have to return yet."

Mr Gillespie said that while the TUI has received contacts from members of the public opposed to vaccines generally, “very, very limited numbers” of their own members have expressed such views, and their chief concern lies with pregnant teachers and those who are ineligible for vaccines for medical reasons.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said it had encouraged all its members to get vaccinated.

There appears to be little appetite for any policy that would see parents notified in cases where teachers are not vaccinated. Mr Gillespie pointed out that vaccination status among individuals, be they staff members or pupils, remained confidential. The Department of Education did not address this particular issue.

The ASTI said issues regarding employees' vaccination status are the subject of ongoing discussions between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) and the Government, and that it would "be guided by the outcome of these discussions".

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times