Health workers dissatisfied they are receiving ‘least efficacious vaccine’

Health Workers Dissatisfied They Are Receiving ‘Least Efficacious Vaccine’ Health Workers Dissatisfied They Are Receiving ‘Least Efficacious Vaccine’
A group of unions has written to HSE management with its concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: PA Images.
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Health workers have expressed dissatisfaction that they are receiving the “least efficacious vaccine” available to protect against Covid-19.

The Irish Times reports that a group of unions known as the staff panel wrote to management of the Health Service Executive (HSE) with its concerns this week.

In the letter, the unions said members were dissatisfied that they were receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine which they said had “only 60 per cent efficacy”, while both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s jabs had efficacies of over 90 per cent.

“The unions and staff associations are experiencing a significant increase in contact from members in recent days, complaining that the HSE are making available the least efficacious vaccine, namely AstraZeneca to frontline health care workers,” the letter said.

“Also, members are pointing out that National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the HSE made the decision to utilise Pfizer Biontec for over 65s and in the intervening time the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance with regards to same has changed.”


NIAC has said the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be administered to adults under the age of 70 in the State, despite the WHO recommending it for all adults over 18, due to a lack of data regarding its efficacy among older people.

Infection levels

The letter continued: “The legitimate question being raised by health care workers is that they are dissatisfied that that least efficacious vaccine available is being made available to them with only 60 per cent efficacy.

“As you are aware this is in the context of more than 26,000 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19, which is 12.5 per cent of all infections in the State.”

The unions added that antibody testing at several acute hospitals has indicated that the number infected was much higher than those detected in official figures.

The letter also raised concerns regarding the time it would take for health workers to develop a level of immunity following vaccination.

It said that the period where workers remained at risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 would be lengthened until May or June of 2021 “as the gap for the AstraZeneca first and second dose is longer than the timeframe for the Pfizer Biontec 21-28 days”.

The letter sought for the HSE to set out its “clinical reasoning” for making the “less effective” AstraZeneca vaccine available to healthcare workers.

The HSE has been asked for comment on the letter sent by the group of trade unions.

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