Over 33,000 health staff given vaccine without employment category recorded

‘Null’ category does not imply personnel were from outside prioritised frontline groups - HSE

More than 33,000 healthcare staff received doses of the Covid-19 vaccine without their specific category of employment being recorded.

Official figures provided by the HSE to Opposition politicians and to trade unions show that 33,082 initial doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and 18,308 second doses were attributed to a category identified as "null".

The document shows that, as of March 5th, 30,933 initial doses of the vaccine were provided to nursing staff as well as 21,292 second doses. More than 16,000 initial doses of the vaccine and in excess of 9,000 second doses were provided to medical and dental personnel.

More than 29,000 health and social care professionals received the initial dose of the vaccine up to March 5th. Staff categorised as management and administration received 17,333 first doses and 6,478 second doses.

The document also says that nearly 13,000 initial doses of the vaccine were administered to staff categorised as “other”. Nearly 3,300 initial doses were given to employees listed under the category of “general”.

The HSE said that the “null” category did not imply that the personnel concerned were from outside the frontline staff groups prioritised for receiving the vaccine.

“It shows that they did not record their various categories of healthcare staff at the time the data was recorded/input,” it said. “The HSE Data Quality team is tasked with reviewing and updating these records, and ensuring that the data is appropriately allocated to the various cohorts going forward.”

Transparency

Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane, one of those provided the figures by the HSE, said the failure to record precisely the employment category of those who had received vaccines was bad for transparency.

“The largest cohort has no classification at all. How is it effective if the biggest cohort is a code that can’t be identified?” he asked.

“It is important to get the factual information. If we’re getting information back that isn’t clear . . . it makes our job more difficult.”

Tony Fitzpatrick, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation director of industrial relations, said a large part of the data presented to trade unions on healthcare worker vaccination was "incomplete".

“We remain concerned that the IT system purchased for the vaccine programme is still not functioning fully. To date, it is still not issuing appointments – something which must be in place for the mass vaccination roll out. We have asked the HSE to ensure that these issues are resolved as quickly as possible.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent