Feb 08, 2021 Europe Etuc
Letter from the Secretary General, Agostino Siciliano, to the members of Ferpa:
“Dear Colleagues,
I hope that you are all doing well despite the current context.
I would like to share with you my concern about the way the Covid-19 vaccination campaign is being carried in Europe.
The campaign has got off to a good start among those most exposed to the virus, especially health care workers and the elderly, who have paid and are unfortunately still paying too high a price in terms of infections and mortality.
This campaign seemed to me to be the beginning of a good way out of this terrible pandemic which still causes thousands of infections and deaths. Unfortunately, producers have considerable delays in terms of distribution and manufacturing and are slowing down access to vaccination, with serious consequences for the elderly population in particular for the over-80s and so-called “at-risk” people who should have been vaccinated first.
There are also concerns about AstraZeneca. Opinions are divided as to the effectiveness of this vaccine on the elderly population, which was poorly represented in the phases of its trial.  EMA experts believe that AstraZeneca can also be used in the elderly, but they are awaiting further information following the results of the studies still underway. Some countries are considering granting it only to people under 55 years of age, others to people under 65 years of age.  This creates confusion, frustration and above all anxiety among older Europeans and risks producing discrimination and inequality.
While being aware of the difficulties, I think that, while respecting security measures and controls, the management of the campaign must be done in the same way in all countries bearing in mind that the priority for public health, but also for economic recovery, is to vaccinate first the most vulnerable people, people with serious illnesses, the elderly and then the rest of the population. Planning must avoid that a healthy 50-year-old man or woman who is not in an occupation with a high risk of infection is vaccinated before an 80-year-old man or woman, who is in the so-called vulnerable category.
To prevent this from happening, all countries must have the same vaccination schedule for the three brands that have received the EMA green mark and subsequently any other vaccine that may be considered reliable later.  Europe must guarantee the same protection to all its citizens!
We must be vigilant and put pressure on the various governments to ensure that the first consignments of vaccines are distributed as a priority to vulnerable people and health workers, as stressed by the ETUC Executive Committee on 9 and 10 December 2020. The European Trade Union Confederation is following the vaccination campaign very closely and has also asked the European Commission to ensure that these criteria are respected and to recommend to Member States to ensure that all health care institutions, as well as hospitals and retirement homes are fully safe for patients and staff.
Throughout these last months, we have also committed ourselves as FERPA and within the ETUC to call for strong European coordination, to respect common guidelines on how to vaccinate millions of European citizens, to protect them in the best possible way and to protect, particularly the elderly.  This pandemic, which has caused so many deaths and enormous damage to the economies of all countries, must be defeated.
I therefore invite you to keep us informed of any malfunctions in the vaccination campaigns in your respective countries so that we can make our action, together with that of the ETUC, even stronger.
Yours sincerely
Agostino Siciliano
General Secretary”