Dáil told of childcare provider staff vaccinated ahead of time

Service in Wexford may have exerted pressure on the HSE, says Labour Party leader

A childcare provider had all staff vaccinated in advance of their place in the rollout plan it has been claimed.

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said in the Dáil that "alarmingly" his colleague Brendan Howlin told him about a childcare provider in Wexford that "possibly [put] some pressure on the HSE" and "has actually got all their staff vaccinated".

Mr Kelly said “these are young people, 20s, 30s, 40s possibly”.

The Irish Times asked the Health Service Executive for a response to Mr Kelly’s claim. And a spokesman replied that the South East Community Healthcare network is rolling out vaccines in Wexford and other counties, that “vaccinations are being carried out in accordance with guidelines and regulations”.

He said that to date the the rollout has included residents and healthcare staff in nursing homes and residential care centres, staff in community healthcare services, staff employed in section 38 and 39 agencies that are supported by the HSE and patients aged over 85.

During the Dáil sitting Mr Kelly also highlighted concerns raised by Mayo GP Keith Swanick. Belmullet-based Dr Swanick said on Wednesday that "a practice in a neighbouring village received 420 Covid vaccines last week instead of 42. Myself and the other practice in Belmullet still await our allocation. Our patients are being disenfranchised. Who's in charge of this process? We need answers."

Mr Kelly said Dr Swanick “outlined how he got no vaccines, but a neighbouring GP got 420 vaccines even though he had only about 45 or 50 people over 85. Yet he and his neighbour, a fellow GP, got none. That can’t work out.”

Mr Kelly said: “Now if this is going to continue by way of those two examples the public are actually going to have really, really serious issues.”

He asked Green Party leader Eamon Ryan – who was taking questions on promised legislation – if he will "engage and ensure at Government level that these issues are dealt with"?

The Labour leader added that “we cannot have such anomalies happening. It’s not equitable.”

Mr Ryan replied that he would engage with Government on the issue.

“We listen to what Dr Swanick would say with real care because they were . . . in the centre of a real flare-up of cases in Belmullet. So I can well understand his frustration.”

On the vaccine rollout process Mr Ryan added that this week it was decided that those people with conditions that are very high risk would be brought up in terms of the order. He said this was done on good health and scientific advice. “The medics are well placed to make a call on that,” he said.

“My understanding is [the] GP system is working effectively [but] there may be variations. There may be cases where there are problems.”

Last night Fianna Fáil TDs from Mayo, Kildare, Dublin and Limerick complained at their parliamentary party meeting that vaccines were not being distributed in a uniform way, that GPs are becomingly increasingly frustrated by lack of information on when they would receive supplies. Dara Calleary, James Lawless and Niall Collins raised concerns.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told them he had contacted the Health Service Executive during the course of the meeting about the hold-ups. He told colleagues he would revert to them once in receipt of the information.

Vaccination cancelled

Meanwhile, people over 85 who attended for Covid-19 vaccines in Ballyfermot and Donaghmede in Dublin were turned away because the medicine had not arrived the Dáil was told.

Dublin South-Central TD Bríd Smith (Solidarity – People Before Profit) said she had received dozens of calls from constituents who were told their planned vaccination on Thursday and Friday in Ballyfermot was cancelled at the last minute.

She said in the Dáil that the vaccines for more than 100 people had not arrived. Ms Smith added that it was shoddy treatment for those whom the vaccine would have had a dramatic impact.

She asked why this happened because all other appointments at the primary-care clinic had been cancelled to allow for the vaccinations. Ms Smith asked when the vaccinations would actually happen.

“It’s no exaggeration to say some of the calls I’ve been getting are heart-breaking,” said Ms Smith.

Her party colleague Richard Boyd Barrett said he had just received a text from someone whose 88-year-old father had been turned away from a clinic in Donaghmede where he was scheduled to be vaccinated.

The Dún Laoghaire TD also claimed mandatory quarantining legislation is a “PR exercise” and is not happening. He suggested that vaccination may now be a PR exercise because it also is not happening.