Vaccination FAQs


What is immunisation and vaccination?

  • Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease and it can be either active or passive.
  • A vaccine is any preparation intended to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies.
  • Vaccination involves administration of a vaccine to stimulate the production of an immune response (production of antibodies) and is a form of active immunisation.
  • Passive immunity is where antibodies are administered to non-immune persons.

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Is vaccination compulsory under health and safety legislation?

No, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 require that where the risk assessment shows there is risk to the health and safety of employees due to working with a biological agent for which an effective vaccine is available, employers must offer vaccination.

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When should vaccination be offered?

Vaccination should be offered where there is a risk to the health and safety of employees and an effective vaccine, which has been registered within the European Union, is available. Vaccination should be offered prior to the employee commencing work where the exposure may occur.

In some cases, such as the current public health emergency and where the associated vaccines are only recently licensed for use within Ireland, it may not always be feasible to offer the vaccine prior to work commencing.

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Do I have to accept the offer of vaccination?

No, an employee does not have to accept the offer of vaccination. When offering vaccination, the employer must inform the employee of the benefits and drawbacks of both vaccination and non-vaccination. The employee can then decide whether to avail of vaccination or not.

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Why have some of my colleagues not been offered vaccination, yet we all have the same job title?

Decisions about vaccinations should be based on risk assessment and take account of the duties of the individual rather than job title alone.

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What if an employee refuses the offer of vaccination?

In such circumstances, the employer must review their risk assessment and decide whether the employee can carry out the work task without vaccination but with additional protective measures in place. There may be instances, based on the risk assessment, that if someone is not vaccinated that they would not be regarded as safe to perform certain work tasks, despite additional protective measures being in place. In such cases, the employer may have no option but to redeploy the worker to another work task. It is recommended that any such decision is agreed between the employer and the responsible medical practitioner for example, an occupational health professional, and in consultation with the employee.

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The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 require that vaccination be carried out in accordance with any current best medical practice. What is the current best medical practice?

Vaccination should be carried out under the direction of a medical practitioner and in line with the Immunization Guidelines for Ireland and any advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and Department of Health (DoH). The medical practitioner will know when vaccination is not advisable, for example, some vaccines should not be given to pregnant women.

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Can an employer charge an employee for their vaccination?

No, an employer cannot charge an employee for their vaccination. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 require that vaccination is offered free of charge to employees.

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Does a vaccination certificate have to be provided?

No, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 only state that a certificate may be drawn up. The vaccination certificate will usually be drawn up by the person administering the vaccine and is a useful record for an employee to have, especially if they travel.

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Who is entitled to the vaccination certificate?

If drawn up, the vaccination certificate should be made available to the employee concerned or if requested, to an Inspector of the Health and Safety Authority. 

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After vaccination, are control measures still required?

Yes, control measures will still be required. Vaccination should only be seen as a useful supplement to the correct use of engineering controls, safe working procedures, personal protective equipment, instruction, information and training and should not replace them. Employers should be mindful that some employees might not respond to vaccination (non-responders).

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    Who is responsible for licensing and regulating vaccines in Ireland?

    Before a vaccine is licensed for use in Ireland, it must be regulated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The Department of Health then make policy decisions based on recommendations received from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and these policy decisions are then passed to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for implementation.

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    Where can I get further information on vaccination?

    Further information is available from the National Immunisation Office.

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