Teachers will not get priority for a booster Covid jab, the Dáil has been told.
nvironment Minister Eamon Ryan said putting one profession ahead of another could destabilise public support for the vaccination programme.
The Green Party leader rejected a call from the Labour Party for teachers to get the booster ahead of others because of their exposure to unvaccinated children in the classroom.
“I don’t believe it would be appropriate to start diverting from the strategy that our vaccination programme has followed,” Mr Ryan told Labour Education spokesman Aodhán Ó Riordáin.
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The existing arrangement, based on age cohorts, had been “hugely successful” and had maintained public support, he said.
“I think we might risk losing some of that if we started to divide between professionals as to who would get boosters next. I don’t I don’t think that makes sense.”
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly was involved in a nasty exchange with the Taoiseach this week on whether teachers would be exempt from five-day restriction of movement rules, with Mr Ó Riordáin varying the point of attack today.
He said there was “a huge amount of confusion and lack of leadership” on schools, with principals “contacting every deputy in the house on the issue.”
“They are saying daily, that the system is at the brink of collapse.
“I spoke to one principal today in the midwest, who told me that he had a close-contact issue with a member of staff.
“He contacted the helpline which he is told to do and the helpline told him today that the advice that was issued on Tuesday, even though it is up on the website, wasn’t yet active. So you can appreciate there’s a huge amount of confusion.”
He said the Minister for Education had gone on the radio to say antigen testing will be rolled out in schools by the end of this week, but it would now be the week after next — which was December.
He said Labour would prioritise those working in the school sector — teachers, SNAs, school principals — for booster vaccines after those who are most vulnerable have been have been vaccinated.
He said the minister should “stop coming out with this mantra that schools are safe,” because they were no safer than any other work environment. “But it’s really important for us to keep them open.”
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