Apology issued after family members of Coombe staff given vaccine
"Had they not been used they would have been discarded."
An apology has been issued after family members of Dublin's Coombe hospital staff were given doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccines were issued on Friday evening to family members of staff after 16 doses were left over at the Women and Infants University Hospital. 1,100 doses had already been administered to staff, GPs, and local health workers.
Hospital Master Professor Michael O'Connell said that the doses were administered to family members to ensure they would not be discarded. He added that he now regrets giving the vaccines to staff family members.
"The decision to use the vaccines that had already been made up was made to ensure that not a single reconstituted vaccine was wasted," he said.
"Had they not been used they would have been discarded. I was keenly aware of that and throughout the evening and from 9.30pm onward I personally made every effort to prioritise and identify additional frontline workers and followed all measures available to me at the time.
"In hindsight as Master I deeply regret that family members of employees were vaccinated and for that I wholeheartedly apologise."
According to the hospital, nine recipients of the vaccine were over the age of 70 while the rest were of varying ages. A spokesperson said the hospital followed HSE guidelines and focused on two priority groups for the extra vaccines.
They added that at the time of ordering the vaccines, the HSE's booking system was not yet live and therefore they could not pre-order the correct number of doses.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has since said he will seek a "full account" from the chair of the hospital board.
"Trust in the vaccine programme is of critical importance and what happened should not have happened," he said.
"Our vaccine allocation strategy clearly sets out a priority list for vaccination - and that's currently for frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of our long term residential care facilities.
"It does not include family members of healthcare workers."