Healthcare staff have second stab at jab
All healthcare workers in Luxembourg are to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine from mobile teams who will travel around the country in a bus, just weeks after a report slammed the way the government handled the pandemic in care homes.
The teams are set to visit workplaces such as hospitals and retirement homes across Luxembourg until August 10, and those who wish to be vaccinated will be able to attend on the day without a prior appointment, the health ministry announced on Monday.
The scheme is aimed at all healthcare workers, including placement students and volunteers, who are in close contact with those considered vulnerable. The government originally said that all participants would be offered the Pfizer vaccine, but later clarified on Tuesday evening that staff in care homes would receive Pfizer, while those in hospitals would be given Johnson&Johnson.
Luxembourg’s government to date ruling out any compulsory campaign, unlike in neighbouring France, which introduced mandatory jabs for those in the sector earlier this month.
The debate over compulsory vaccinations in Luxembourg came into sharp focus after elderly residents in nursing and care homes comprised nearly half of all Covid-19 deaths last year as prevention measures fell short, the Luxembourg Times reported in February.
A huge percentage of deaths from Covid-19 have been connected to care homes. Of the 507 fatalities from the virus last year, 241 had lived in housing offering care for the elderly, the Health Ministry reported to parliament in January.
Lawmakers called for the resignation of family affairs minister Corinne Cahen in mid-July following the publication of the so-called Waringo report into deaths in care homes.
It concluded that Luxembourg’s government knew retirement home residents ran a high risk of dying from Covid-19, but mostly left decisions about proper safeguards in the hands of staff running the homes.
However, legislation bringing in obligatory vaccinations for healthcare staff could be tabled soon, Dr Philippe Turk, the new president of the Federation of Luxembourg Hospitals, said at the start of July.
Dr Turk said that the FHL is pushing to put the issue back on the agenda after a mandatory testing requirement for care homes and hospitals was dropped from legislation last month.
There is no basis in law for mandatory vaccinations in Luxembourg and the government has emphasised that inoculations remain strictly voluntary, after staff working with vulnerable patients at the rehabilitation clinic of Mondorf spa in the south of the country were told that they must get a Covid-19 shot or be assigned new tasks.
In Luxembourg, around 70% of healthcare employees have been vaccinated to date. Those who have not yet been inoculated must take a test three times a week to check if they are carrying the virus.
Meanwhile, more than four-fifths of people in Luxembourg are willing to receive a vaccine, the country's official statistics agency Statec said on Tuesday. The results are from a survey of 1,000 adults in May and June, and showed that 82% would be willing to receive a vaccine, with 13% against the idea.
Luxembourg is set to start closing Covid-19 vaccination centres from mid-August and will allow doctors to inoculate instead, the health ministry said last week. Around 76% of all adults living in Luxembourg have received at least one dose, according to the European Commission.