Disorganised rollout prompts complaints from front liners

The Covid-19 vaccination rollout among front liners has hit a glitch amid reports of “rationing” due to insufficient supplies, and complaints on the “disorganised and arbitrary” fashion in which the process is being handled.

The government has pledged that by the end of January around 20,000 dozes would be administered including all those over 85 years, half of all healthcare workers and some 60 per cent of residents in the St Vincent de Paul home for the elderly.

However, the feedback which UHM Voice of the Workers is receiving from front liners indicates that the vaccination programme is not going to plan.  

Healthcare workers in some State homes for the elderly are facing a shortage as not enough jabs have been administered. This is prompting complaints that the vaccine is being “rationed”.

“In our case we had to resort to drawing by lots to decide who would take the first dose,” healthcare workers at on particular State home told Voice of the Workers Weekly.

At Mater Dei Hospital questions are being raised on the ‘strategy’ adopted by the management which seems to be accommodating certain employees to the detriment of others, even within the same category.

This sentiment was especially palpable among ambulance responders and radiographers, both of whom come in direct contact with infected patients upon admission to hospital.

“Ambulance responders who are engaged by the contractor have all been administered the first dose of the vaccine, but not those employed directly by the health ministry. For some reason the vaccination process for these ambulance responders is being delayed as only two workers per day are being administered the first doze,” sources said.

Questions on the handling of the roll-out were fuelled further when it transpired that relatives of doctors at the emergency department have been offered the vaccine already before healthcare workers themselves.

“Though we have nothing against such decision, we are yet to understand on what grounds the relatives of only some and not all front liners are being offered the vaccine. It seems there are double standards,” healthcare workers questioned.

Another category of front liners where for some reason not all of them have yet been vaccinated are radiographers. These health workers are tasked to take x-ray images of Covid-19 patients amongst others upon their admission to hospital.

“Apart from being exposed to the virus we are also severely understaffed to cater for the number of patients being admitted to hospital. The least which we would have expected was to be vaccinated as soon as possible not only for our own protection but also to ensure the staff is not depleted any further,” they said.

In recent days the health authorities came under fire from the doctors’ union over the slow pace of the vaccination programme. The government, however, refuted such claims saying it had the logistical infrastructure in place to give up to 10,000 dozes daily. At the same time, it blamed disruptions in the supply of the vaccine from abroad for hindering the roll-out. The public expects that in the name of transparency the criteria behind the logistical operation to roll out the vaccine is communicated to everybody.