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'excess vaccine' Covid-19 jab given to family members of staff at Rotunda Hospital

It follows reports that 16 family members of staff in the Coombe maternity hospital also were given the vaccine earlier this month.

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Rotunda Hospital

Rotunda Hospital

Rotunda Hospital

Two family members of health staff at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin have received Covid-19 vaccines, it was confirmed today.

It follows news that 16 family members of staff in the Coombe maternity hospital also were given the vaccine earlier this month.

The two family members are believed to be in a “vulnerable group”.

In a statement today the the Rotunda said it received its first batch of 93 vials of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from the HSE on Wednesday, January 6, for the purpose of administration to its staff.

The vaccine was licensed and approved for administration to staff of six doses from each vial.

“The Rotunda confirms that every one of these six doses were administered to staff working at the Rotunda.

“At the end of the first day of administration of the vaccine, the Rotunda’s dedicated vaccine administration team noted a small amount of vaccine remnants in a number of vials that had been re-constituted, following administration of the approved number of six doses per vial. In other words, there was excess vaccine in some vials.

"These remnants would have expired within a number of hours, if not used and would have been discarded.

"Rather than wasting any vaccine whatsoever, and following immediate discussion with leadership at the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), the Rotunda requested expressions of interest from the local community, who could attend the hospital within an hour, prior to expiry of these vaccines and who would be willing to accept these unapproved vaccine remnants."

A spokeswoman said that 37 people, including local GPs and members of other vulnerable groups, agreed to attend and to avail of the non-approved vaccine remnants.

“The Rotunda is of the view, and is supported by NIAC, that this was the morally correct thing to do and a wholly appropriate response in the setting of a pandemic, such that no vaccine was wasted and the maximum good was achieved,” said the hospital.

“It must be noted that even if Rotunda staff could attend at short notice to receive the vaccine remnants, the hospital was not approved to administer it to them.

"Equally, the 37 non-Rotunda personnel who received the vaccines did so in the full knowledge they were receiving a non-approved vaccine remnant.”

It comes as Minister Simon Harris has raised concern about the lack of clear protocols around “spare” jabs after 16 vaccines were given to family members of staff of the Coombe Hospital.

Speaking at Government Buildings, the Minister for Higher and Further Education said he would be very concerned if there is not a protocol in place for what should be done with leftover vaccine doses.

“The idea that we had spare vaccines, albeit we had just 16 in this case, is a concept that I find hard to understand, because of course there isn’t spare vaccines,” he said.

“Either this is a situation in place where there is a protocol about what you do with so-called spare vaccines and that wasn’t followed, or more concerning if there isn’t a protocol in place.”

He said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will speak to the Coombe today and welcomed the apology from the Master of the Hospital, Professor Michael O'Connell, last night.

The hospital said the decision was taken so that no vaccine would go to waste, after workers and those it has been tasked with administering the first dose had got it.

The hospital would not give details about the family members who got the vaccine other than to say there were 16 of them – nine were over the age of 70 and seven were “of varying age”.

Mr Harris said that there is “very clear” prioritisation to who should get the vaccine.

“Nobody in their right mind is suggesting that vaccines should be thrown in the bin,” he said.

“What there should be and that there is very clear clinical prioritisation in my understanding who gets the vaccine.

“It’s very clear that people who are getting vaccines right now should be the people who are working on the frontline, healthcare staff and people in nursing homes.

"And I’m concerned that today in Ireland there are some frontline healthcare workers who haven’t yet been able to get the vaccine.”



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