HSE issues new guidelines on order of vaccinations for healthcare workers

Frontline healthcare staff will be asked to register online to schedule appointment

The HSE on Friday set out new guidelines on the sequence in which healthcare workers should be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the weeks ahead.

It said the AstraZeneca vaccines would be administered to frontline healthcare workers as supplies arrived in the country. The HSE is to ask all frontline staff to register on a new online portal, which will come into effect next Tuesday and will be used to facilitate scheduling of your vaccination appointment.

The HSE said the AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses and the evidence demonstrated that higher efficacy was achieved with an interval of 12 weeks between the first and second dose for those under 65 years of age. It said the interval for those aged 65-70would be six weeks.

Hospital Report

The new HSE guidelines also set out 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 said the sequence for vaccination should be based not on where or for who the healthcare staff worked, but rather on the type of work they do 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.”

Unscheduled care

Those in the first of several categories listed in the new sequence document are healthcare workers in a congregated care setting (unit/ward/service) in contact with a known or suspected Covid-19 patient or service user where there is potential for active transmission of the virus.

The next category includes healthcare workers who deal with unscheduled care patients or service users on a regular basis in an uncontrolled environment and includes first responders in the community and those in the emergency child protection services.

The next group listed are healthcare workers who deal with unscheduled care patients or service users in a semi-controlled environment on a regular basis. These are those who mainly see patients or service users by appointment but who may from time to time need to see urgent unscheduled patients or service users. The group includes urgent care facility clinical staff, GP practice staff – GPs and practice nurses – as well as dentists and dental nurses providing urgent dental care.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent