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Coombe Hospital orders independent review after some family members of staff received Covid-19 vaccine

A senior clinician has also been appointed to lead the rollout of the vaccine in the hospital.

File photo. Coombe Hospital
File photo. Coombe Hospital
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE BOARD OF the Coombe Hospital has said it has commenced an independent review into some family members of hospital staff receiving leftover Covid-19 vaccines. 

In a statement this evening, the board of the maternity hospital said it has tasked a senior clinician from within the hospital to lead and take full responsibility for the next stage of the vaccine rollout until it is completed. 

Earlier this week, it said that 16 prepared vaccine doses were left over that evening and “to ensure that vaccines were not wasted they were administered to family members of employees of the hospital”. 

“Of the 16 recipients, nine were over 70 and the remaining seven were of varying age. It would not be appropriate for the hospital to comment on the individuals involved,” a spokesperson for the hospital said. 

The incident was first reported by the Irish Times on Sunday night. 

The 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.” 

Speaking on Monday, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said he had concerns over the situation. 

“There should be no vaccines going into the bin… but there aren’t ‘spare vaccines’ in Ireland,” Harris said. 

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The Minister said there’s either a protocol for “spare” vaccines which wasn’t followed, “or perhaps more worryingly, there isn’t a protocol at all”. 

A HSE document published on 12 January on Covid-19 vaccination of frontline healthcare workers said there should be a standby list of healthcare workers available to avoid any waste in the instance of leftover vaccines. 

The HSE document, which was approved by Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry, outlined that “every effort should be made” to ensure vaccines are given to frontline healthcare workers “rather than given primarily to people later in the sequence who work in the institution that hosts the vaccination centre”. 

In its statement this evening, the Coombe said it expects its independent review will be completed within a number of weeks. 

With reporting from Orla Dwyer, Christina Finn

About the author:

Sean Murray

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