The CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland has said nursing homes would be keeping records of staff who have chosen not to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Tadhg Daly said the issue will be monitored and will be reviewed at the end of February when it is anticipated that residents and staff of nursing homes will have received the offer of vaccination.

Mr Daly said Nursing Homes Ireland will be encouraging all involved in the running of nursing homes to take the vaccine.

He said he does not believe vaccine hesitancy will be a "huge issue", as he cited upwards of 90% uptake of the vaccine.

Mr Daly said the "next steps" will be a challenge for nursing homes in relation to those who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

He said people have legitimate concerns that must be addressed by ensuring that they can access high quality information on the vaccine and its efficacy.

"The challenge for all of us across all of the healthcare system is what are the next steps, in terms of if there is either a percentage of people who have whatever reason, chosen not to take the vaccine," he said.

"There are those who have legitimate concerns and that's appropriate. But I think what we need to do collectively is to have all of the information, that they are supported, and given all of the correct information so they can make an informed choice."

Mr Daly said Nursing Homes Ireland would support mandatory vaccination if it is something that the Government chose to implement.

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He said the nursing home sector is not "entirely clear" on what to do if keeping records of staff who have been vaccinated leads to the identification of those members of staff.

Mr Daly said Nursing Homes Ireland will be "liaising with public health" on whether a resident can refuse healthcare from a member of staff who has not been vaccinated.

Speaking on the same programme, the former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Martin Daly, has said that while the reported Covid-19 vaccine uptake of over 90% among healthcare workers in nursing home settings is "very heartening", a more active encouragement of the vaccine programme for healthcare staff needs to be undertaken by the HSE.

Dr Daly said that healthcare workers have an ethical and moral responsibility to first do no harm and said "we may do harm if we don't take the vaccine".

He said that the low uptake low in flu vaccine uptake (55%) among healthcare workers is indicative of low uptake rates to vaccines and is something that needs to be addressed.

Last night the Director of the National Immunisation Office at the HSE said reports of healthcare staff in some nursing homes not wishing to take up the vaccine are "very anecdotal" and the evidence the HSE has is that there has been a very high uptake in most nursing home.

At the NPHET briefing, Dr Lucy Jessop said they have vaccinated over 74,000 staff and residents in nursing homes, which she described as "a very significant uptake". 

Meanwhile, Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said there were concerns around the storing of Covid-19 vaccination records of healthcare workers.

"We need to be careful in terms of how we engage with healthcare workers around this," Mr Herrick said.

"They have made huge sacrifices for the community over the last year. And any suggestion now, that's compromising their privacy and their bodily integrity is the key measure that we need to take in the public health effort, is not just misplaced, but it's deeply troubling."

He said the "small level of reluctance is very marginal", and that good quality information on the vaccine is having a positive effect.

He said the main issue to uptake is trust, and if employees' rights are intruded upon, it is likely to "feed" misinformation on the vaccine.