The organisation has been fully transparent in following the HSE's vaccination registration process for workers, which has been similar to that in other disability service providers.

12th April 2021

The roll out of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme and associated registration process is managed by the HSE. Irish Wheelchair Association has been fully transparent in how our workers have registered for vaccinations under the HSE’s guidance.

We fully refute any allegation of queue skipping, with regard to the HSE vaccination process and did what we were asked of under the HSE’s registration guidance. The process we followed was similar to that in other disability service settings, including the HSE and other Section 38 and 39 providers.

Irish Wheelchair Association provided staff details to the HSE, including job roles, and facilitated staff registration on the HSE portal, in line with the HSE’s ‘Guidelines for Sequencing and Registration Process for HCW Covid-19 Vaccination’ issued on behalf the Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, to all Disability Service Providers on February 5th last.

In accordance with the HSE Sequencing and Registration Guidelines, sequencing is based not on category of worker or grade but on the setting in which they work. The sequencing guidance also states that workers from all staff groupings and who work in these settings, or who attend occasionally, must be included in the process.

Approximately 8% of Irish Wheelchair Association’s 2,300 staff are working from home as a result of lockdown, but not on a continuous basis. Many are on rosters and come into our centres regularly, so all of our staff have the potential to meet people with disabilities in our services in the performance of their jobs.

Over 2,000 of our staff are working in service user homes and communities on a daily basis, including our assisted living workers and community outreach teams.

The HSE, with this information, offered staff vaccinations across all staff in sequencing categories 2a to 2g. All Irish Wheelchair Association staff who were registered for vaccination work in settings where community, day, residential and/or respite services are delivered.

The HSE, which controls the vaccination programme, made the decision to offer vaccinations to 95% of our workers.

Irish Wheelchair Association has complied with HSE guidelines and from our knowledge of other Section 38 and Section 39 Disability Service provider organisations, our approach is consistent with that of the sector more widely. There was no organisational policy or communication to staff to keep their vaccination quiet.

While complying fully with all Covid-19 regulations, Irish Wheelchair Association has continued to safely provide essential services throughout the pandemic including personal assistance, emergency respite, day and outreach services.

Contrary to the recent media report, Irish Wheelchair Association’s Clontarf Campus has remained open throughout the pandemic, safely providing respite, residential, day, outreach and rehabilitation services, in compliance with Covid-19 guidance and regulations.

We have adhered to the Government’s guidelines on the provision of services for people with disabilities from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and our response to their call for workers in our sector to be vaccinated is the latest step in following the Government and HSE’s guidance in stemming the pandemic.

Irish Wheelchair Association has been vocally championing the urgent need for provision of vaccines to people with disabilities since planning of the vaccine roll out began. We firmly believe that people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19 in society and should be vaccinated as a priority.

We have implored the HSE and Minister for Health to urgently vaccinate people with disabilities as soon as available as we know that the delay in vaccinations is creating frustration among people with disabilities.

We are actively assisting people in our services to book and get to their vaccination appointments. We reiterate our commitment to campaigning for vaccinations for people with disabilities urgently and will continue to do this until those most vulnerable to the virus are protected.