The Master of the Coombe Hospital has issued an apology after it emerged that 16 family members of staff in the hospital received leftover Covid-19 vaccines.
It is understood that from 9:30pm on January 8, efforts were made to identify additional frontline workers to receive leftover doses, ahead of family members of staff being vaccinated.
Master of the Coombe, Professor Michael O’Connell said: “The decision to use the vaccines that had already been made up was made to ensure that not a single reconstituted vaccine was wasted.”
“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 front-line 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.”
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Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines must be used within six hours after being defrosted and prepared, and must be discarded if they are not used.
The leftover vaccines were distributed to family members of staff following the delivery of 1,100 doses at the hospital on January 8 to staff, community health workers and local GPs, as reported by The Irish Times.
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has said that he will now be investigating the circumstances surrounding the vaccination of family of staff, and that ‘what happened should not have happened’.
A statement from the Minister said: “Trust in the vaccine programme is of critical importance and what happened should not have happened.
“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. I will be speaking with the Chair of the Coombe Hospital Board for a full account.”