THL wants Covid pass for nurses and care staff, ministry cool on idea

Health officials want to ensure care staff are vaccinated. 

Some 80 percent of healthcare staff in Finland are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Image: Arash Matin / Yle

Finnish health officials want to bring in Covid pass rules for staff in care homes to ensure they're vaccinated, but the proposal could face legal hurdles.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) presented its proposal for temporary Covid pass rules to be brought in for care staff, to ensure they present less of a risk to their colleagues or those under their care.

The rules could be brought in for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic under existing laws on infectious diseases, according to THL.

Earlier this week the Helsinki region's Covid steering group had asked for mandatory vaccination of care workers.

Finland's Social Affairs and Health Ministry, however, says the THL proposal needs to be evaluated by legal experts.

The ministry said in a press statement that the THL proposal takes a broad stand on issues that must be balanced against the rights of care staff themselves. The ministry said there could be problems around discrimination and equality as well as protection of private and personal data.

Some workers, the ministry notes, are unable to get the vaccination for health reasons.

Among health and social care workers in Finland, the lowest rates of vaccination coverage are seen among nurses who care for the elderly in assisted living facilities.

Overall more than 90 percent of healthcare workers have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and more than 80 percent are fully vaccinated with two doses.