Retail workers seek early access to Covid-19 vaccine

Mandate union seeks clarity from Minister on prioritisation of shop workers

A supermarket worker wipes shelves with disinfectant wipes. File photograph: Tom Honan

A supermarket worker wipes shelves with disinfectant wipes. File photograph: Tom Honan

 

Retail workers are seeking early access to the Covid-19 vaccine, their trade union has said.

The Mandate trade union said it had written to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, seeking clarity on the prioritisation of retail workers in the rollout of the vaccination programme.

Gerry Light, Mandate general secretary, said the HSE’s listing of priority groups published on January 6th for vaccination was “ambiguous” and did not explain where retail workers stood in its listing of priorities.

“Retail workers, particularly grocery and pharmacy staff, have kept the country going over the last 12 months and they deserve recognition as essential workers risking their health every day.

“As such, the Minister needs to confirm that retail workers are in the ‘key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure to Covid-19’ category.”

“Shop workers and pharmacy workers are key to tackling this virus and reducing transmissions. They experience daily interactions with the public and with other key workers, and if they are infected, there is a strong possibility that they could infect others, whether at work, or in the community.

“It makes perfect sense to vaccinate them as early as possible so that we can keep infections in the community under control and protect both the retail worker and the public.”

Mandate said it had also written to all major retail employers in Ireland seeking their support for the early vaccination of retail workers.

In recent days staff in private hospitals have also expressed concern about the pace of vaccination.