Student nurses who have been told that they must take a Covid 19 vaccine in order to begin their work placements in Irish hospitals are considering legal action to vindicate what they say is their right to refuse consent to be vaccinated, a source has told Gript.

The move comes as a group of student nurses wrote an open letter to Professor Martin Cormican, who is clinical advisor to the HSE vaccination programme, and to Dr. Colm Henry, who is the HSE’s chief clinical officer. It was Henry who wrote to Student nurses last week informing them that they would have to agree to be vaccinated before taking up their placements.

In the letter, the student nurses say that the HSE’s policy of mandatory vaccination for them flies in the face of the HSE’s own vaccination policy.

The letter states (emphasis added):

Having reviewed the National Consent Policy June 2019 and the document on consent for Covid 19 vaccination, we believe we have received sufficient information in a comprehensive way about the nature, purpose, benefits and risks of intervention i.e. vaccination. We are making a voluntary choice to currently decline this vaccination and we have the capacity to make this particular decision acknowledging elements of informed consent as outlined.

The person must:

  1. Have received sufficient information in a comprehensible way about the nature, purpose, benefits and risks of intervention i.e. vaccination
  2. Make a voluntary choice.
  3. Have capacity to make that particular decision.

We understand that according to the HSE “While it is up to you to decide to get the  vaccine, the HSE strongly recommends that you do so as soon as we offer it to you”.

However, it also states:

‘People must not be put under undue pressure to make a particular choice. They must understand they have a choice.

A source amongst the student nurses told Gript that they feel that the mandatory vaccination policy flies in the face of the HSE’s own guidelines for consent.

“If the HSE is vaccinating a member of the public, they are constantly told to seek consent, and to take measures to ascertain if the person is being coerced. At the very same time, the HSE has taken away our right, effectively, to refuse consent, and is engaged, very publicly, in an act of coercion.

If you tell somebody that their education and career will be put on hold if they do not take the vaccine, how is that anything other than coercion?”

The student nurses say that they have no problem whatever with any other aspect of Covid-prevention policy in hospitals, and say that they are willing to be tested for the virus as many times as is necessary, as well as complying with any and all quarantine requirements that might arise.

However, should the matter fail to be resolved by political means, legal action is on the table, Gript understands. “We obviously don’t want to disclose details of our legal advice, but our lawyers do indicate to us that they feel we have a good case, because the HSE is acting in contravention of their own stated policy”, one said. “Because this is about our careers – our right to work and earn a living in Ireland, effectively, we’re willing to push this as far as we can”.

Last week, Gript reported on the reasons that the student nurses had for not wishing to take a vaccine. Several pointed to the fact that the expert evidence internationally now says that the risk profile for younger people with the Astrazenica jab, in particular, made the vaccine of questionable benefit. One nurse had already had Covid, and wondered why she needed to take a vaccine when she already had antibodies, especially given the concerns about clotting with the Astrazenica injection.