Teachers' union wary of AstraZeneca vaccine, questions effectiveness

The Union of Professional Educators says educators should be given the most effective COVID-19 vaccine 

Updated at 2:28pm with Malta Union of Teachers statement 

The Union of Professional Educators (UPE) has expressed reservation regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, as it supposedly less effective than other brands such as Pfizer.

The union said that the vaccination program for educators is expected to begin this week. 

“To date, it is still unclear which vaccine will be administered to educators at large, but sources have indicated that AstraZeneca was the likeliest brand being considered,” the UPE said.

The union said it was adamant that the “best brand” be given to front-liners in the educational sector since “educators deserve, and require, the maximum protection against COVID-19.”

Thousands of healthcare workers across Europe are refusing to take the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about side effects and efficacy. Some argue that they should be prioritised for the more effective doses from Pfizer and Moderna.

AstraZeneca showed 62% effective at reducing symptomatic disease in its trials and 81% effective in later data when the two doses were spaced out longer, while its competitors showed 90% efficacy.

The UPE said it would keep its members updated as developments are ongoing.

MUT statement 

In a statement, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) said that it trusted the medical experts to decide which vaccines should be given to whom. The union said unless it has advice to the contrary, it has no position for or against the use of any of the vaccines. 

"On the other hand, if there are personal issues, the MUT encourages educators and school staff to always talk to their doctor to give them advice and direction as appropriate," the union said. 

The MUT said it appealed to everyone not to fall trap to "populism and rumours" that ultimately do more harm than good.

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