Family members of the master of the Coombe hospital in Dublin and other staff who controversially received first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, have been offered their second doses.
The Coombe gave first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech to 16 family members of the hospital staff, including two children of the hospital's master, Prof Michael O'Connell, on January 8th after some were left over following the vaccination of some 1,100 staff, local GPs and community workers.
Second doses started to be administered last week and were offered to the same recipients under health guidance from the time that the two-dose vaccine should be given 21 days apart.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “In line with duty of care, all those who received the first dose have been offered the second.” She would not answer further questions on the family members, citing a European data protection regulation.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, HSE chief executive Paul Reid and other political and health figures criticised the decision to give left over vaccines to family members.
Prof O’Connell apologised for the decision – and said he regretted it – but said he could not find any more frontline healthcare workers – one of two priority groups currently being vaccinated – on the night and that the vaccines would have otherwise gone to waste.
A senior clinician, consultant neonatologist Jan Miletin, took charge of the second round of vaccinations over recent days from Prof O'Connell at the request of the Coombe hospital's board. The board has asked Brian Kennedy SC to carry out an independent review of the master's decision because of the "serious nature of the matter". The review is expected to take a number of weeks.
Some frontline healthcare workers have criticised the slow rollout and prioritisation of the vaccines within the health sector against the backdrop of limited supplies from the EU.
About 45,000 second-dose vaccines were administered to frontline healthcare workers last week, according to the HSE. The planned rollout to older people, who are more vulnerable to serious illness from Covid-19, has been delayed because of lower-than-expected vaccine supplies.