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Unions, employers want more funding for workplace vaccination programmes

Finland wants occupational health nurses to help administer vaccines.

Finnish Confedration of Industries EK headquarters by Helsinki's South Harbour. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle

Workers and employers' organisations have joined forces to demand changes to the government's coronavirus vaccination policies.

Over the Christmas period the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health published a paper outlining policies surrounding the vaccine rollout, but the labour market organisations now say there are "significant practical problems" with the proposal.

The blue collar trade union confederation SAK, its white collar equivalent STTK, the confederation for professional unions Akava and the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK all want to see costs associated with vaccines delivered by occupational health services reimbursed in full by the taxpayer.

In the current proposal 60 percent of costs will be reimbursed. Most people working in Finland have access to occupational health services from their employer, either through in-house staff or a private contractor.

The Social Insurance Institution Kela is responsible for making those payments to employers. They cover the service provided, as the vaccine itself will be offered free of charge.

Tight schedule

The labour market organisations also want to see an expanded range of staff allowed to deliver the vaccines, rather than just occupational health nurses as is currently proposed.

The organisations say this could significantly slow down the vaccination programme.

They want to see changes in law to ensure the programme proceeds as quickly as possible, before the vaccination of working-age people starts later in the year, so that occupational health services can deliver the vaccines as effectively as possible.