Independent probe into relatives of Coombe staff receiving Covid-19 jab ordered

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The Coombe hospital has ordered an independent review to be conducted into how family members of its staff received Covid-19 vaccines.

The board of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital said that “given the serious nature” of the matter that arose at the hospital on January 8th it would commence a review.

It emerged earlier this week that 16 relatives of employees at the Dublin hospital received vaccine doses on January 8th after 1,100 frontline workers including GPs and community health staff were vaccinated.

The hospital said that of the 16 recipients, nine were over 70 and the other seven were of varying ages, and that the doses would have been thrown out if they had not been administered.

A spokeswoman for the board of the Coombe hospital said: “Given the serious nature of the matter the Board has made the decision to commence an independent review.

“It expects this review will be completed within a number of weeks.

“The Board has also taken the decision to task a senior clinician from within the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital to lead and take full responsibility for the next stage of its vaccination rollout until it is completed.”

Full account

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has asked bosses at the Coombe hospital for a “full account” of the incident and said he would speak to the chairman of the board about the matter.

He said trust in the vaccine programme was of critical importance and what happened should not have happened, adding that frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term residential care facilities were at the top of the priority list for the vaccination.

On Monday, the master of the Coombe hospital, Professor Michael O’Connell, said the decision was made to ensure that not a “single reconstituted vaccine was wasted”.

He added: “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.”

It was also revealed on Monday that two family members of staff at the Rotunda Hospital received Covid-19 vaccines which it said would have been wasted otherwise.

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A total of 37 people received the vaccine from remnants of vials delivered to the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin which were intended for its staff.

The incidents at the hospitals happened before the HSE put in place standby lists of healthcare workers, available at short notice, to ensure doses of Covid-19 vaccines that are about to expire are used.

The HSE’s guidance, which was issued on January 12th, says centres should consider establishing standby lists of other healthcare workers (provisional vaccine allocation group 4) who are available at short notice and are randomly selected from the lists for vaccination if for any reason frontline healthcare workers are not available and the alternative is that vaccine dose expires.



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