Frontline health staff to have to disclose vaccination status if asked

HSE to issue directive following data watchdog ruling on ‘necessary safety measure’

Latest figures show 4,707,181 Covid-19 vaccinations have been administrated across the State, with 2,673,840 having received a first dose as of Saturday and 2,033, 341 fully vaccinated. Photograph: Getty Images

Latest figures show 4,707,181 Covid-19 vaccinations have been administrated across the State, with 2,673,840 having received a first dose as of Saturday and 2,033, 341 fully vaccinated. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Frontline health staff will have to indicate their Covid-19 vaccination status if asked by their employer, under a directive due shortly from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

This follows a ruling by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) that vaccination may be considered as a “necessary safety measure” in certain situations, including frontline health services.

On foot of the DPC ruling the HSE plans to write to staff indicating that it may seek information about their vaccination status as part of assessing risk to patients and other staff during the pandemic.

Where a risk is deemed to exist, the member of staff may be moved away from patient-facing duties, under the approach developed by the HSE.

It comes as the Government looks set to decide as early as Monday when indoor services will be allowed reopen in restaurants and pubs for people who have been vaccinated.

The Cabinet is set to hold an incorporeal meeting on Monday to agree on plans for the reopening of these indoor services with a system to verify that customers have been vaccinated.

It is understood that a plan to allow children to accompany vaccinated parents into restaurants and pubs as part of a ‘family bubble’ is included in the proposals.

It is expected that the European Union’s digital Covid certificate for international travel will be adapted for use in the hospitality industry here at the doors of pubs or restaurants to prove vaccination or recent recovery from the virus.

The plans will also cover customers who were vaccinated in the North, Britain or the United States once they show evidence of this.

Sources suggested that negative PCR and antigen tests could be used to gain access to indoor hospitality in later phases of the reopening but further scientific advice is needed as well as an examination of testing capacity for such measures to be introduced.

Indoor services

The date for indoor services to resume in restaurants and pubs is likely to be between July 19th and July 26th.

However, no final decision has been made on the date and it is not certain it will be set at today’s Cabinet meeting. It is taking place to consider legislation that will have to be passed to provide the legal basis for the new system.

With the summer recess looming the Government aims to have the legislation passed in the Dáil and Seanad this week.

Other plans to help cut the unemployment rate which has spiralled due to the pandemic will be unveiled by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys on Monday morning.

The Pathways to Work Strategy 2021-2025 will see the Government commit to slashing youth unemployment with the help of training incentives and subsidies to employers over the next two years.

It includes a €1,000 grant for people on unemployment payments to enter training in short-term accredited courses at a total cost of €11 million per year.

Examples could include construction workers taking classes on driving heavy-goods vehicles.

Meanwhile, latest figures show 4,707,181 Covid-19 vaccinations have been administrated across the State, with 2,673,840 having received a first dose as of Saturday and 2,033, 341 fully vaccinated.

Close on three-quarters of the adult population have had at least one dose and 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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