Gardaí and teachers demand Government ensure they are vaccinated earlier

Upcoming teaching unions conferences want to ‘make sure the Government does another U-turn’ on vaccination schedule

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has proposed a separate Covid-19 vaccination programme to run in parallel with the new age-based system for the general public.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has proposed a separate Covid-19 vaccination programme to run in parallel with the new age-based system for the general public.

 

Gardaí and teachers have urged the Government to introduce a separate Covid-19 vaccination programme to run in parallel with the new age-based system for the general public.

The general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) Antoinette Cunningham said on Sunday that her organisation was proposing that, in mass vaccination centres such as City West in Dublin, there could be separate streams that would provide vaccines side-by-side to both those in high-risk and front-line occupations such as gardaí and teachers, as well as to the general public based on their age.

Meanwhile, John Boyle, the general secretary of the primary teachers’ trade union, INTO, said a twin-track approach proposed by gardaí could easily be rolled out.

He suggested that given the scale of vaccination seen recently, gardaí and teachers could be vaccinated within a matter of a few days if the will was there. He said schools had been promised in February that teachers would be in the first 30 per cent of the population to be vaccinated.

“So therefore with 15 per cent done already, you would expect that we would have had our vaccines done by the end of June. Now it looks like the 124 special schools that were at the top of that queue, only 4,000 staff in those, that some of those teachers and special needs assistants are going to have to wait until August or September.

“We are not going to suffer that.”

Mr Boyle said in addition there were also people in special classes – about 5,500 staff who had been expecting to be at the top of the vaccination queue — who now because of their age may have to wait. He said they would not even have immunity built up by September when schools were scheduled to re-open again.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme on Sunday, he said that there had been a big breach of trust and faith. Mr Boyle forecast that there would be “a lot of ire and frustration” expressed at the teacher trade union conferences which start on Tuesday.

He said the strategy of the three teaching unions would be “to make sure the Government does another U-turn” on its vaccination schedule. He said the unions wanted the Government “to come up with a creative plan” to ensure that the 30 per cent of the population to be vaccinated first included teachers, front-line staff in education, secretaries, caretakers and special needs assistants, as well as gardaí and others in at-risk occupations.

Ms Cunningham also told the programme that her association could not understand why the undertaking given previously by the Minister for Justice that gardaí would be vaccinated as soon as possible after vulnerable people could not be adhered to.