HSE staff in West Cork to sign up for the Covid-19 vaccination is causing fear in other HSE and healthcare staff.
Following weekend reports of several staff across the country refusing the vaccination for various reasons, it has emerged as an issue in West Cork too.
One local nurse has contacted The Southern Star to say she was distressed after colleagues, and the families of some patients, refused permission to receive the vaccine.
She said the impression is that vaccinations are being rolled out swiftly, but no one is talking about those refusing to take it. She said any gaps in the roll-out will mean that she and her patients will continue to be put at risk of contracting Covid-19.
A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed that while vaccination is not mandatory for its staff, it ‘strongly recommends’ that people give their consent and take the vaccine when it is offered.
One HSE worker who spoke to The Southern Star said they believed the vaccine was rolled out too quickly. She said she will not be taking it because she believes it has not been fully tested and is concerned about possible side-effects.
Another frontline worker who has high allergenic reactions to some medications also expressed concerns, but will ultimately act on the advice given by her GP.
Rosscarbery-based GP Dr Mairead Wilson spoke to The Southern Star about the vaccination uptake, saying: ‘We cannot force people to have the Covid-19 vaccination.
‘We will offer, and we will encourage all patients to have it, but if a patient refuses consent, we have to accept they have a personal right to that.
‘As we stand, we do not have the legislation to say that a HSE employee must be vaccinated if they wish to remain in their jobs. There is a strong anti-vacs group in this country. And I am aware that anti-vacs leaflets have been dropped into many doors in the Skibbereen area. And that these people would have a following within the HSE.’
She said such groups would be encouraging everyone they come into contact with not to take the vaccine ‘which is regrettable’.
‘It’s very sad because it is going to impact on the roll-out of the vaccine and the whole strategy we have to supress Covid-19 and get on top of it.’