Childcare staff seek early access to Covid vaccine

ireland
The Family Resource Centres National Forum is concerned that childcare workers are having to deliver services 'unprotected'. Photo: PA
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Childcare staff should be prioritised in the national Covid vaccine rollout, according to a representative body for the sector.

The Family Resource Centres National Forum (FRCNF) is concerned that staff are having to deliver services “unprotected” as the Government has classed childcare for vulnerable children and children of key workers as an essential service.

As it stands the Covid-19 vaccine priority rollout includes childcare and early years educators in group 11 out of 15.

The FRCNF, the national representative body for family resource centres in Ireland, has called on the Government to move their access to vaccines to allocation group 4, alongside “other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact”.

Clare Cashman, chair of the FRCNF, said childcare practitioners provide an “integral frontline service” and it was a “matter of urgency” that they are prioritised in the vaccine rollout.

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“Although childcare has been deemed low risk, evidence provided by the HSE shows a higher rate of infection in childcare settings compared to primary and post-primary. Our childcare teams are in a unique position of being frontline workers as they are unable to socially distance from the children,” she said.

Ireland
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“The Government must recognise the vital role they are playing in the pandemic, and if priority is not given to childcare workers, childcare for essential workers and vulnerable children could be under threat, as facilities may be forced to close.”

Childcare services, including regulated childminders, are currently closed with the exception of services for vulnerable children and children of essential workers.

Other existing childcare arrangements can continue to operate for vulnerable children and children of essential workers only. Only one parent needs to be an essential worker for their child to be eligible to access the service.

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) pre-school programme will return on February 1st 2021, in line with planned reopening of schools.

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