Despite the fact that over 2 million people received their first dose of vaccination, and in just a few days vaccination will be available for people who are older than 45, many essential workers have not been prioritized. Most cleaning and maintenance workers, including workers employed in vital workplaces who come in contact with thousands of people a day, such as hospital cleaning personal and supermarket security guards, have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The chairman of the Histadrut's Security, Cleaning and Nursing Care Workers' Union, Yossi Barbie, appealed last week to the director general of the Ministry of Health to prioritize vaccination for about 200,000 workers in these professions who have been recognized as essential.
"These workers are engaged in a labor environment that exposes them to a high risk of contracting the coronavirus and thus endangers their lives," he explained. "Lack of vaccination for these groups of workers and infection in these industries will disrupt the functional reopening of the economy and we should all mobilize and prioritize vaccination for them as soon as possible."
The chairman of the Association of Cleaning Companies, Ilan Shimoni, told Davar that many cleaning workers employed by HMOs (Kupot Holim) and hospitals have not been vaccinated either.
"It seems to us that cleaning personnel did not get the regard they are due,” said Shimoni. “All day they clean and sanitize public health centers and public spaces in general – during a pandemic. It is clear that this is an essential and very necessary service in the context of the coronavirus, and it has also been recognized as such. But this is not reflected in the guidelines of the relevant ministries."
According to him, some of the HMOs and hospitals have decided to vaccinate the cleaning workers on their own. He believes that those who have not yet done so are likely to do so soon due to media pressure.
The Ministry of Health told Davar that the cleaning workers who are not contracted employees, in the institutions whose regular employees are vaccinated, such as in the health system and the education system, have already been vaccinated or are expected to be vaccinated soon. The ministry expressed hope that the expansion of the vaccination campaign will include additional groups, but clarified that, at this stage, they do not intend to prioritize cleaning and maintenance workers in other workplaces.