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HSE aware of 'marginal' instances of people accessing vaccine ahead of position in schedule

Details of a review into the Beacon Hosptial’s vaccine allocation are being finalised today.

Image: Shutterstock/Studio Romantic

THE HSE IS aware of a “marginal” number of instances of people receiving a vaccine before their position in the rollout plan.

Details of a review into the vaccination programme at the Beacon Hospital are being finalised this afternoon.

The South Dublin hospital’s vaccine rollout is to be reviewed after 20 staff members at St Gerard’s School in Bray were vaccinated last week ahead of their position in the sequence plan.

The terms of reference of the review are being finalised today, chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid has confirmed.

The review will look at the hospital’s vaccination administration and allocation, as well as its list of completed vaccines.

At a HSE briefing today, Reid said that “some vaccines at the Beacon and how they were used inappropriately has caused understandable anger, and I do indeed share this feeling of anger that everybody has felt”.

“Programmes that are publicly funded by the state are not there to be allocated on any other basis other than fairness and transparency,” Reid said.

“Publicly funded health programmes must be administered to good ethical standards,” he said.

“The values that are at the heart of a trusted public health system include fairness.”

Reid said that was “clearly not evident in what emerged in terms of what happened in the Beacon last week”.

There has been a “marginal” number of cases of people accessing a vaccine before it should have been available to them under the rollout plan. 

Some of these occurred through a link to a portal for frontline healthcare workers to register for a vaccine being shared to others who were not meant to have access to it.

Where cases have been identified, the HSE intends to take action on them.

“We take them seriously and where we have seen it in health system and in the HSE, of course people should be addressed and sanctioned for it,” Reid said.

Staff at vaccination centres have been instructed to strengthen efforts to validate the position of people coming forward to be vaccinated.

However, Reid said that we “don’t want to scare people by not utilising vials – that’s the worst case scenario for us”. 

The schedule for the vaccine rollout is undergoing an overhaul after a decision to change how people are prioritised for the jab. 

Under the new plan, which was announced on Tuesday, priority will no longer be assigned to people working in specific occupations.

Instead, once vulnerable groups are vaccinated, the schedule is to move immediately to work through the public on the basis of age.

Progress was already underway in the IT system that processes the rollout ahead of vaccinating people in the 65-69 age cohort.

As such, the same design can be built on for vaccinating the rest of the population by age, Reid said. 

The system has already had to be adjusted during the programme based on changes to cohorts, prioritisations, locations, delivery schedules, and which vaccines could be administered to which groups.

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Reid asked the public to “plan their Easter break for this weekend in a very safe manner”.

If Ireland entered a fourth wave of a surge in cases, it would be a high base level of hospitalisations and ICU patients.

“When society decides to take a temporary break from the public health measures, we know the impacts,” Reid said, citing consequences for sickness, hospitals, ICU and mortality.

“It’s too high a price for everybody to pay.”

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Lauren Boland

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