HSE outlines order of Covid-19 vaccination priority for healthcare staff

Dr Colm Henry acknowledges that vaccine rollout has been ‘frustrating’ for staff

A health worker prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. File photograph: Tibor Rosta/MTI via AP

A health worker prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. File photograph: Tibor Rosta/MTI via AP

 

The rollout of vaccines will be “inevitably disappointing and frustrating” to many healthcare staff who have to wait, the HSE has admitted.

Addressing concerns that many healthcare staff are not being vaccinated quickly enough, the HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has written a letter outlining how healthcare workers should be prioritised for the jab.

He hoped the sequence would be “consistent with Government policy and based on principles that are reasonable and fair”.

In a letter to hospital group chief executive officers, clinical directors and community healthcare organisation chief officers, Dr Henry said those who work on Covid wards should get the vaccine first.

Paramedics should be the next priority to receive the vaccine However, Dennis Keeley, the chief fire officer for Dublin Fire Brigade, which represents 1,100 fire fighters and paramedics, stated on Thursday there is as yet no schedule for them to be vaccinated.

The next category of those to be vaccinated are staff who work in Covid-19 assessment hubs and emergency departments.

This is followed by GPs and practice nurses, most of whom have already received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Medical staff who carry out home appointments are after that, followed by those who give scheduled care in a GP practice (those who only deal with patients by appointment).

The next category of healthcare workers are those who do not have direct contact with people but do have contact with potentially infectious blood or body fluids or human remains in a controlled environment.

The vaccination programme needs to be organised around locations where the vaccine can be received, safely stored and administered, Dr Henry stated.

In a letter to all hospitals and HSE healthcare settings, Dr Henry said no vaccine should be wasted and “every effort should be made to ensure that vaccines should be made available to frontline healthcare workers in order of sequencing (as above) rather than given primarily to people later in the sequence who work in the institution that hosts the vaccination centre”.

He admitted in the early stage of vaccination, vaccination centres were based at locations that have access to sufficient numbers of staff to ensure that the vaccine is used (no doses wasted) and use of vaccinators time is efficient.

“This raises issues of geographical equity and equity of access for people who work do not work at large centres,” he stated.

Vaccination centres should establish standby lists of frontline healthcare workers later in the sequence order that are available at short notice in the event that frontline healthcare workers do not attend or cannot receive the vaccine.

Those aged 70 and older should be considered for vaccination if not enough healthcare workers turn up for the vaccine.