Stephen Donnelly: Coombe vaccine incident was 'profound error'

Stephen Donnelly: Coombe Vaccine Incident Was 'Profound Error' Stephen Donnelly: Coombe Vaccine Incident Was 'Profound Error'
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has described the vaccination of family members at the Coombe hospital as “a profound error of judgement”.

Mr Donnelly told RTÉ radio’s News at One that he was “not happy about it” and that he would be having a conversation with the chair of the board of the Coombe later today.

Very clear protocols had been in place for weeks, he said.

The Minister added that this week 3,900 people would receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and that by Sunday 140,000 people will have received their first dose of the vaccine.

An agreement reached with GPs and pharmacists on Tuesday would mean that half of all vaccines this year will be administered by that group, he added.

GPs and pharmacists remained in the second cohort on the vaccine rollout schedule, but he did not think it was necessary that they should be vaccinated themselves before they commenced administration of the vaccine.


The Minister defended the communication of details of the vaccination rollout saying that it was being updated twice a week. There were considerable figures involved, but he hoped that full details could be provided daily as soon as possible.

Vaccination programme

Ireland’s vaccination programme was doing very well on the EU27 list of countries, he said. The priority was to get the vaccine into nursing homes and then frontline workers.

When asked about the possibility of teachers and SNAs moving up the prioritisation list, Mr Donnelly said that the public health advice remained that rates of transmission were low in schools.

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School staff had every right to question health and safety, but the prioritisation list, as agreed by NIAC and endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), would remain in place, he said.

However, Mr Donnelly said it was “a living list” and could change.

Mr Donnelly also welcomed the agreement between the HSE and the Beacon hospital. “I’m delighted that the Beacon has signed up. This is very much a Team Ireland moment.” He thanked all the private hospitals for signing up.

In the meantime the situation remained serious and it was everybody’s responsibility to follow public health measures and to stay at home.

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