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human error Dozens of people turned away from Covid booster centre after HSE sends invites by mistake

Today the HSE apologised for the fruitless journeys experienced by those who were called in error this week

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A coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa via AP

A coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa via AP

A coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa via AP

Dozens of people were called for a Covid-19 booster jab by text – then turned away after they had queued for hours for the shot.

The Fairyhouse vaccination centre in Co Meath summoned people by text for their booster by name – then refused to administer it when they turned up, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Dozens of people aged under 60 were called in, but the centre told them after their long queue for the jab that boosters for this cohort were not yet approved and could not be administered.

Today the HSE apologised for the fruitless journeys experienced by those who were called in error this week. The individuals involved were also being called to be offered apologies.

“Fairyhouse vaccination centre did turn away a number of people on Monday 22nd November,” the HSE told the Irish Independent.

“All of the people involved were in the under-60 category and were incorrectly scheduled for appointment on that day.

“This was due to a human error on our behalf and we apologise to everyone who was inconvenienced as a result.”

The HSE said it was reviewing its scheduling “to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” The spokesman added: “We are currently rescheduling all people affected to provide a booster vaccine as soon as possible.”

The Government last week approved regulations for people with underlying medical conditions and the over-50s to receive a booster and the reason for non-administration of booster vaccines remains unclear.

One of those texted with the offer of a booster, John Cunningham, said: “I stood in the cold for two hours and then for an additional hour inside the Covid vaccine centre in Fairyhouse.

“I am already vaccinated but this was for my booster, which I am due earlier than most because I had a health issue a couple of years ago.

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“Just as about 40 people – who I presume also have some sort of reason to get the booster earlier - reached the top of the queue at 5.10pm, we were informed we had been sent the text by mistake.

“We couldn’t get our boosters because the Government has apparently not yet signed into law the legislation which allows the HSE actually give us the booster vaccine to under-60s.”

Mr Cunningham said he welcomed the speedy apology, but said the situation should not happen again.

“The HSE was sending text messages to under-60s who legally can’t get the vaccine that they are texting them about,” he said.

“That was the actual reason given by the HSE manager who closed down the vaccine centre tonight in Fairyhouse - stopping people who actual want the vaccine getting the opportunity to get it.”

While it had been explained to him that it was human error, “you couldn’t make this up if you tried”, Mr Cunningham said.

“You have Tony Holohan begging people to be sensible and get vaccinated and then you have a HSE manager having to empty a vaccine centre full of people who actually want one - and who waited for three hours they wanted it that much.

“I don’t blame the centre manager. She was polite, apologetic and embarrassed to be sending us home.”

The Government should “do the simple things correctly and stop with the PR and big headlines which have no real actions backing them up”, he said.

“I have no political axe to grind, and am just a citizen of this Republic who deserves and demands better. We have got to get this right.”

The HSE said the invitations were sent in error and the problem was confined to the Fairyhouse centre.

It said the people affected would be prioritised when under-60 boosters became available, and regretted that individuals were put to considerable inconvenience by being called for boosters that could not be administered.

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