Push for care staff vaccines after report criticism

Mobile testing units will visit hospitals and care homes over two weeks to increase the number of vaccinated staff SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

Mobile testing units will visit hospitals and care homes over two weeks to increase the number of vaccinated staff SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

Healthcare staff will get another shot at receiving the coronavirus vaccine in a two-week campaign that comes after criticism of how the pandemic was handled in care homes.

Medical professionals, nurses and care staff were among the first to be vaccinated when the grand duchy launched its vaccination campaign in December last year. But uptake in some professions--the care sector in particular--was slow.

Mobile vaccination units will allow healthcare staff to receive the Pfizer/Biontech or Johnson & Johnson vaccine near their place of work without registration or advance paperwork. The campaign will also include hospitals as well as interns, volunteers or external suppliers who frequent sites such as retirement homes or assisted living facilities.

“If everyone contributes their part to the collective effort of solidarity, we can beat the virus,” health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) and family minister Corinne Cahen (DP) said in a joint statement.

Cahen on 13 July survived a vote in parliament to remove her from office after an independent report highlighted shortcomings in the coordination of virus response measures in care homes.

The coalition parties--DP, LSAP and déi Gréng--backed Cahen in the second vote of no confidence within just three months. Opposition parties already in April had launched a vote against the family minister who oversees the care home sector as part of her portfolio.

Care home residents account for four in ten Sars-CoV-2 deaths, the report published in July found.

The authors criticised that only around 60% of care home staff were vaccinated at the time of publication, although the number could be higher as data on cross-border staff who received the vaccine in their country of residence wasn’t accessible to the investigative committee.

Luxembourg virologist Claude Muller in March said it was “unprofessional” that healthcare facilities did not track which of their staff had been vaccinated.

The grand duchy, unlike France, has not made vaccination mandatory among healthcare staff, a decision criticised by the report published in July.

“It is important for the working group to express very clearly its incomprehension with regard to the repeated decision not to make compulsory first testing and then the vaccination of all persons who are in contact with the most vulnerable people in our society,” it said.

“How can we reconcile the desire to protect the most vulnerable people in our society with the refusal to be tested or vaccinated?”