Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that student nurses have an “obligation” to take the covid-19 vaccine, even if they don’t want it, for the sake of “collective solidarity” and the “overall good.”
The comments were made in response to queries by Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara.
“Taoiseach, you informed this Dáil categorically, to Deputy Naughton, that there would be no compulsory vaccination in this State. That this was never our approach, that it was based around bodily autonomy and informed consent. Given that, why are student nurses in Ireland now being told that they have to be vaccinated to go and finish their placement, and thereby finish their degrees?”, asked deputy McNamara.
A large number of trainee nurses were unable to start their hospital placements this week after the HSE made the vaccine mandatory for them, and they declined. "We have a right to consent, too", they told Gript:https://t.co/RJKvuM1hN9
— gript (@griptmedia) March 31, 2021
“We need these people. These are nurses who have been on the front line all along, who have put their health and their bodies on the line for this State. Now, many of them are delighted that they’re going to be given the vaccine. But there are some who simply don’t want it. And you have acknowledged that there will be no compulsory vaccination.
“Now, your Minister for Health categorically denied in the Dáil that Mass-going would be a penal provision, and we now know that the State has adopted the contrary approach. I think he needs to correct the record of the Dáil in that regard for the sake of parliamentary democracy. But that’s a different issue. I’d ask you to respond to the questions I’ve raised.”
The Taoiseach replied that while there was no mandatory vaccination for “the country”, there were certain “obligations in terms of collective solidarity” within the Health Service.
“In respect to compulsory vaccination, again I said that there is no mandatory compulsion on people in vaccinating the country. I think within the Health Service there are particular, I would argue, obligations in terms of collective solidarity, in terms of preventing the spread of the disease,” he said.
“We know from the last wave it was very, very challenging. The numbers of healthcare workers who got covid – the numbers of staff in nursing homes, for example, who got covid [were high].
“Now thankfully with the vaccines the impact has been dramatic. The serial testing in nursing homes now I think is indicating 0.3%. It’s very, very low. Which is a very good vindication of the vaccines and their impact on reduced infection, as well as reduced mortality. And likewise in a hospital setting that has been the case. And I do think we have to, for the overall good, do everything we can to prevent the spread of covid-19 within a hospital setting and within a health setting more generally.”