Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is under pressure over the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine amid claims that official guidance was not available or insufficient.
s a second Dublin maternity hospital admitted vaccinating relatives of staff, the minister was struggling to get on top of the situation last night.
His spokesman said vaccines were operational matters that would not be notified to the minister, with issues first being addressed by the HSE.
But the HSE only issued new protocols on what to do with leftover doses in the middle of last week.
This was after the Coombe hospital gave 16 doses of the vaccine to relatives of family members because it said it was unable to get direction from health authorities and did not want to see the vaccines go to waste.
Yesterday the Rotunda said it had also given vaccines to the relatives of staff members, while Tallaght Hospital said jabs went to management and administration staff.
It also emerged last night that 10 construction workers who are doing building work at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee received the Covid-19 vaccine.
The hospital said they needed to work in clinical areas and were involved in time-critical construction projects.
Opposition leaders are set to ramp up the pressure on the Mr Donnelly from today. Questions will be raised in the Dáil over the minister’s handling of the vaccine rollout.
Labour leader Alan Kelly told the Irish Independent the fact that vaccines were being given to family members of hospital staff was “very undermining for the vaccine programme”.
“There are a series of questions that need to be answered by the hospital and the minister. What did the HSE protocol say, and why wasn’t it followed?” he said.
“Minister Donnelly doesn’t seem on top of this, and one of the reasons I wanted a dedicated minister for vaccines was for when issues like this that arise.”
Social Democrats spokeswoman Róisín Shortall said what happened was completely unacceptable and a “slap in the face” for priority groups still waiting.
There were anecdotes of other examples, she said. Many frontline workers facing daily risk have still not received a vaccine despite two hospitals giving surplus jabs to relatives of staff.
However, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that spare vaccines should be used for those with the “highest priority”.
The HSE issued revised guidelines to hospitals and healthcare settings last Tuesday saying that any planned vaccination session has to include a standby list with contact details of 120 healthcare workers who
could receive any additional vaccines. Hospital groups have been unable to say how hospitals are prioritised for receiving the vaccine.
Source: Irish News