HSE Executive Director Paul Reid has said it is “inexcusable” for nursing home staff to refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast yesterday, Mr. Reid said over 90 per cent of staff in nursing homes accessing the vaccine had accepted it, with almost 100 per cent of residents who had been offered the injection also taking it.

He was critical of staff who refused the vaccine however.

“Take up for the vaccine for both residents and staff has been extremely good, we’ve seen almost 100% of residents and high 90s in terms of staff, so take up has been extremely good,” Reid said.

“I do actually find it inexcusable that staff on nursing homes or those roles would not take the vaccine, to be frank.

“Firstly, we should acknowledge the great work they’ve done this whole pandemic, being at the forefront of the whole fight against Covid.

“But the approach we can take is a health and safety legislation where we do a risk assessment and the manager determines that the person should have it for that role.”

Reid indicated that such staff could be moved to other departments if they are in close contact with residents or patients, “under legislation as it currently exists”.

He added that resistance to the vaccine among staff was a “very minor issue” however, as there had reportedly been “a huge take up”.

Over 230,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ireland by Friday last, with almost 80,000 of that figure taking the second dose so far.

Whilst that represents 4.64% of the population in the Republic of Ireland as having received at least one dose, Northern Ireland has vaccinated 16.02% of its population already, with Scotland at 16.06% and England at 19.53%.

The Irish government hopes to open 40 vaccination centres nationwide in a bid to ramp up its vaccination rates.