Non-frontline HSE staff in Offaly get Covid vaccine to avoid ‘wastage’

HSE says it uses a ‘reserve list which is activated when surplus vaccine is available’

The HSE said ‘A key factor of the rollout strategy is to reduce the risk of any wastage’. File image:  Pascal Guyot/AFP  via Getty Images

The HSE said ‘A key factor of the rollout strategy is to reduce the risk of any wastage’. File image: Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Images

 

Staff working in the Health Service Executive (HSE) finance department in Co Offaly received Covid-19 vaccines, despite not working in frontline roles, in order to avoid wasting excess doses, the executive said locally.

In a statement, the Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation said it adheres to the “sequencing as agreed by Government when administering Covid-19 vaccines”.

The local HSE area had maintained “a reserve list which is activated when there is surplus vaccine available”, as recommended under national guidelines.

“However on very rare occasions where a small number of vaccines are remaining, Midlands Louth Meath CHO operates on the principle that no vaccine should be wasted,” the statement said.

It is understood a small number of staff from the finance department, who are not in patient-facing roles, received the vaccine.

“This is an agile and fast-evolving programme and the HSE is working to ensure the vaccine is administered as fast as supplies allow,” the statement said. “A key factor of the rollout strategy is to reduce the risk of any wastage” it said.

The vaccination of those over 70 years of age is currently taking place under the HSE’s priority list, with nursing home residents and healthcare workers the first to have received the vaccines, at the start of this year.

Following the vaccination of the over-70s the rollout will move to focus on people aged 16 to 69 who are medically vulnerable or high risk.

An independent investigation is underway in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin into the decision to use excess doses to vaccinate 16 relatives of employees in early January.

The family members vaccinated included two children of the master of the maternity hospital, Professor Michael O’Connell.

At the time Prof O’Connell apologised and said the hospital had made “every effort to prioritise and identify additional frontline workers” for the spare vaccines.

However, it has since emerged around 40 medical students in the Coombe hospital’s labour ward had not received the vaccine, when family members were called in to be vaccinated on January 8th.