HIQA advises that healthcare workers, who are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, could be considered for derogation from restricting their movements following completion of COVID-19 vaccination

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published its advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on the consideration of COVID-19 vaccinated healthcare workers for derogation (exemption) from restricting their movements if they are a close contact of a confirmed case.

HIQA warns that any such decision should be in line with the Health Service Executive’s (HSE’s) current derogation guidance and may only be considered for healthcare workers who have been identified as essential to maintaining critical services, and following a risk-based assessment by senior management.

Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “We have advised NPHET that healthcare workers who have completed the full COVID-19 vaccination course and the vaccine-specific time period to achieve full immunity (as per the licensed indications) should be considered for derogation from restricted movements. In the first instance, this should be limited to those who have completed vaccination within the previous two months given the current maximum follow-up data in research trials for the licensed vaccines.

“Derogation should be accompanied by strict conditions of testing, active monitoring, and supervision by local management and occupational health. Consideration should also be given to providing guidance, training in processes such as risk assessment, and support for appropriate implementation of derogation practices outside acute care settings where there may be limited access to occupational health services.

“There is also a need to communicate that vaccination does not lessen the requirement for infection prevention and control practices or the requirement to observe general public health guidance within and outside of the healthcare setting.”

In the context of very limited research evidence for a number of key factors, HIQA's advice was informed by a facilitated discussion between the HIQA COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group on the central considerations influencing this policy question.

Dr Ryan continued: “As we are in the early days of population-level vaccination, the research evidence is limited. This advice should be reviewed and revised as new data becomes available from ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials, post-authorisation surveillance and observational studies.”

Read the latest advice from the link at the top of the page.

Further information:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480/085 805 5202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA provides evidence-based advice to NPHET to inform public health policy, advice and practice in the context of COVID-19.
  • NPHET asked HIQA to provide advice on the following policy question:
    • "Should healthcare workers who have completed two doses of COVID-19 vaccine be considered for derogation from restricted movements where they are identified as close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19?"
  • HIQA’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group is a multidisciplinary group, comprising nominated representatives from the relevant clinical specialties and areas of expertise, methodology experts, and public representation.