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Calls for those with underlying conditions, SNAs, teachers and family carers to be moved up the vaccine schedule

Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to consider revising the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to move certain key groups up the schedule.

The Fianna Fail senator, who comes from Kildare, has identified four groups of people who she believes should be prioritised.

People with underlying health conditions and family carers are two of those.

While teachers and special needs assistants who will be returning to the classroom in the coming weeks to teach children with additional needs are also included in Senator O’Loughlin’s call.

Senator O’Loughlin said: “I have been in touch with the Minister for Health to advocate for certain groups being given a higher position on the vaccine schedule. The first of these is the prioritisation of vulnerable persons with underlying conditions within all other categories of the plan i.e. all age groups.

“The Department should also urgently provide vaccinations for special schools/classes staff especially Special Needs Assistants and should include this group in the healthcare worker category.

“We all welcome the agreement reached between the Department of Education and relevant stakeholders regarding the phased return to in-school teaching for children in special schools and children in special classes in mainstream schools.

“The teachers and SNA’s who will be returning to school need to be vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

“I also requested a move up the vaccination list for staff in Section 38/39s/ agency workers providing essential day services; this group need to prioritised in the healthcare worker category.

“Finally, I believe that carers should be included in the healthcare worker category and that non-professional (for example family carers) as well as professional carers need to also be prioritized in the vaccination plan.

WFamily Carers Ireland wrote in January to the High Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination requesting that family carers are included as a priority group and I think this is a very fair request.

“Family carers should be designated as key workers as they perform a massive service in keeping vulnerable groups out of hospital settings.

“We all understand that there are many justifiable cases for vaccination right now with a limited supply of doses but I think the groups I have mentioned merit a higher position on the schedule due to the vital contribution they are making to keeping our society running.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.