Donnelly condemns private hospital vaccinating private school staff

Donnelly Condemns Private Hospital Vaccinating Private School Staff
The Beacon Hospital in south Dublin has apologised, but said it made the decision due to time constraints. Photo: Getty Images.
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By Cate McCurry and James Ward, PA

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has rebuked privately-owned Beacon Hospital after it vaccinated 20 staff and teachers at a school using leftover jabs this week.

The south Dublin hospital has apologised for its decision, claiming it was made under “time pressure” and admitting the move was not in line with the HSE’s sequencing guidelines.


Minister Donnelly said on Friday that the guidelines are “crystal clear” and the transfer of vaccines should not have happened.


He tweeted: “No private school should have received vaccines from a private hospital.

“The protocols are crystal clear on having a back-up list of people available from the priority cohorts.

“We are prioritising our most vulnerable right now, as it should be.”

'No shows'

The Irish Daily Mail reported on Friday the staff members were from fee-charging St Gerard’s School in Co Wicklow.


There has been widespread criticism of the decision to use leftover jabs on school staff, who are part of Cohort 11 under the State's vaccination programme.


Those in Cohort 4 are currently receiving the vaccine.

The hospital said 1,096 HSE staff were vaccinated at its centre on Tuesday. It said there were more than 200 HSE “no shows” to scheduled vaccine appointments as a result of people being double booked by the HSE at the Aviva Stadium.


In a statement, the hospital added: “Beacon Hospital immediately liaised with the HSE, and the majority of these excess vaccines were subsequently used for HSE staff who were redirected to Beacon Hospital throughout the afternoon.

“However, late on Tuesday evening there were still 20 leftover vaccines drawn up that needed to be used within a very short period of time.

“As this was the AstraZeneca vaccine there were limitations to who this could be administered to.


“In keeping with the zero-wastage policy, a decision was made to administer the leftover vaccine to teachers who were in a position to get to the centre within the exceptionally short time frame required.”

Fall apart

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said there are “very clear” guidelines which have been published since January and he could not condone the hospital's actions.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said vaccines should not go to those outside the priority lists.

“It frustrates people,” she said. “I think it makes people feel as though there is a system or structure in place but it’s not working, and if it doesn’t work, then the whole thing starts to fall apart.

“We need to be sticking to those guidelines. They are there for a reason.

When people start moving outside of it, people lose faith in the system itself

“It’s not because me or any of my colleagues have identified who should be here or there, it’s because the scientists and biologists have come together and identified people should be categorised and this is the way it should work.

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“When people start moving outside of it, people lose faith in the system itself, and it’s very frustrating and I’m frustrated to hear that this morning.”

Beacon chief executive Michael Cullen apologised on Friday, saying: “I recognise that the decision that was made was not in line with the sequencing guidelines in place from the HSE, however it was made under time pressure and with a view to ensuring that the vaccine did not go to waste.

“I sincerely apologise for the upset that this decision has caused and we are updating our approach to our back-up list to ensure that this situation does not arise again.”

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