The Covid vaccine mandate for healthcare workers came into force in Finland on Tuesday. This means that only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus in the last six months are allowed to work closely with patients at risk.
However, the new vaccine mandate only applies to a small part of social and health care workers, says Yle’s report.
Several experts, including a chief physician from the Department of Health and Welfare (THL) Hanna Nohyhave questioned the legitimacy of the vaccine authorization because vaccinated individuals can continue to spread the virus.
When the proposed amendment was approved, the Delta variant was the dominant coronavirus strain in Finland. However, the current dominant variant, Omicron, has been found to be more effective than its predecessor in avoiding the immunity of vaccinated people.
Yle sent a survey to all Finnish hospital districts to assess how the new law would affect their operations.
Helsinki and Uusimaa
The Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) does not yet have precise figures on staff vaccination coverage, but preliminary findings suggest that only a few individual employees will have to resign due to the vaccine mandate, while about a dozen will move to other positions.
HUS currently has about 27,000 employees. Representatives of the hospital district have said that the new change will not affect its operations as much as the continuing shortage of skilled personnel.
The district has also stated that an employee who does not have adequate legal protection against the virus may be called for help in an emergency.
By Maarit PalomaaThe director of the Lapland Hospital District, the vaccine obligation applies to less than ten of the district’s approximately 1,200 nursing and clinical trial employees, which is less than one percent of the staff.
Although the new regulation is not known to affect the operation of the hospital district, five workers who have not received the vaccine have been fired.
Maritta RissanenThe administrative manager of the West Ostrobothnia Hospital District says no employee in the district will have to stop working or move to a transfer because of the new vaccine law.
An assessment of staff vaccination coverage is currently underway in the Pohjois-Savo Hospital District. According to the chief doctor Heikki Miettinenthe number of unvaccinated workers is so small that the publication of the data could violate data protection rules.
Miettinen said he believes the vaccine mandate will not have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of the hospital district, but he expressed concern that it could exacerbate existing staff shortages.
He believes the vaccine mandate is impractical given the tendency of the Omicron variant to circumvent vaccine protection.
There are no exact figures for the district yet, but according to the chief medical officer Jaana Luukkonenthe law seems to apply to a very small part of the staff at Savonlinna Central Hospital.
No changes have yet been made to the new legislation. Luukkonen also reiterated that the new change is no longer appropriate, as the prevailing variant of the coronavirus has changed since its adoption.
Exact figures for the district are not yet available, but about ten people are estimated to be unemployed due to the vaccine mandate. By Juha PalonevaDirector of Chief Medicine of the Hospital District of Central Finland, less than five per cent of the 3,000 staff will have to relocate.
Paloneva said she believes that while the change will not affect patient-related work, it will increase the burden on supervisors.
According to a district report, about 20 workers have not received the required number of vaccinations and about half of them may face a temporary pay ban.
The Central Ostrobothnia Hospital District is suspending the salaries of a few employees, which make up less than one percent of the total staff. Some of these contracts have expired and are being terminated earlier than planned.
In addition, a few dozen employees, about one to two percent of the total staff, move to various positions.
The Central Ostrobothnia Association of Social and Health Care Municipalities (Soite) continues to employ employees who do not have sufficient protection against the coronavirus by law. District representatives pointed out that the law allows the employment of unvaccinated people in special situations.
Although there is a continuing shortage of personnel in the area due to the pandemic, the new law will not cause further cuts or downtime in the near future.
Data collection and analysis related to the new assignment is still in progress in the remaining hospital districts in Finland.
Source: The Nordic Page