Ten construction workers at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee have received the Covid-19 vaccine, the hospital has confirmed.
The monthly meeting of Kerry County Council on Monday heard the workers got the vaccine ahead of psychiatric healthcare workers in the community and residents and patients at mental health facilities in the county.
In a statement, the hospital said: “University Hospital Kerry (UHK) can confirm that 10 construction workers received Covid-19 vaccines in UHK. These workers are contracted staff on fixed-term contracts and have been on-site for the last few months working on the construction projects associated with time-critical Covid-19 related works in the hospital.
“These workers are required to work in clinical areas such as ED to carry out some of their work and would have also be required to carry out their work in areas within the Covid pathway of the hospital. These workers have also had full on-site induction including Infection Prevention Control guidelines.
“The vaccine was administered to the construction workers following the roll-out of the vaccine to the priority group of frontline staff. These workers remain on site as critical works in ED and Radiology continue.”
The statement said vaccine clinics across the South/South West Hospital Group have been administering the available supply of vaccine. As of last Friday, more than 21,000 staff had been vaccinated, it said.
Labour councillor Marie Moloney called on the council to ascertain from the health authorities why staff and patients in the Deer Park psychiatric service in Killarney were not on any vaccine schedule.
“Allegedly, some builders working in University Hospital Kerry have been vaccinated. Yet the psychiatric services in Killarney are not even on a schedule,” the former senator said.
Psychiatric and other staff on the front line could not understand why builders were vaccinated before them, she addied.
However, Sinn Féin councillor Deirdre Ferris defended the hospital. She said rates of transmission in acute settings like hospital were much higher than in other settings, and all workers including builders were exposed to this
“We should not be pitting frontline workers against frontine workers,” Ms Ferris added.
The HSE said the psychiatric workers at Deer Lodge and the residents were being placed on a schedule and would be vaccinated shortly.