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Tusla confirms 'unapproved email' about registering for vaccines sent to staff who were not eligible

The agency said it has conducted checks in other regions and this appears to be an isolated incident.

Image: Marc O'Sullivan/HSE

A SMALL NUMBER of employees at the child and family agency Tusla may have been vaccinated out of sequence after receiving an ‘unapproved email’ from a manager last month telling them to register. 

The agency has said these members of staff are normally based in frontline healthcare facilities but are now primarily working remotely and should not have been categorised as frontline healthcare workers.

Tusla said it has conducted other checks in regions across the country and believes this is an isolated incident.

The potential out-of-sequence vaccination of some of the agency’s staff was first reported by The Ditch

Tusla has now confirmed to The Journal that it has investigated the reports and identified 10 members of staff who received this email from a manager. It is not clear whether all of these staff have received a vaccine. 

In February this year, the HSE issued guidelines referencing Tusla child protection and other Tusla frontline public-facing staff as essential frontline healthcare workers, included in the prioritisation under ‘categories 2a-2g’.

Tusla said a significant number of them remained based in HSE facilities across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The February guidelines were communicated to all Tusla service directors, area managers and Section 56 funded agencies, with details on the process for prioritisation and registration of these staff on the HSE vaccination portal.

“It clearly articulated that any staff members attending for vaccination would be required by the HSE to present with photo ID and acceptable credentials,” Tusla said in a statement.

“Separately, local HSE Community Healthcare Organisations requested details from Tusla area managers of staff to be prioritised for vaccination in their regions. This information was provided to the local Community Healthcare Organisations in line with categorisation referenced in the National HSE Guidance.

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“The HSE then offered vaccination appointments to Tusla staff. Tusla had no direct role in the scheduling of vaccinations for staff.”

Tusla said the issue was brought to its attention in a media query and it has today established that “one unapproved email was sent to approximately ten staff members advising them to register in category 2g, as that was understood to be the appropriate category.

On review, whilst these staff would in normal circumstances be located in frontline healthcare facilities and are therefore encompassed by category 2g as defined by the HSE ‘working in a healthcare facility with the potential to meet patients/service users, who are not captured in 2a – 2f’, these staff are primarily working remotely at this time and should not have been categorised as 2g.

“We have conducted other checks in regions across the country and at this time this appears to be an isolated incident.”

The agency said it does not have a system in place to track the vaccination status of staff and as it has no direct role in scheduling vaccinations, “cannot be fully assured that all Tusla or Section 56 employees were vaccinated in accordance with the guidance provided.”

It said it had made “every effort” to clearly communicate the prioritisation of vaccines at the time was in line with the HSE sequencing and for frontline staff only.

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