Coronavirus vaccine operations at a private hospital in Dublin are to be suspended after it used spare doses to vaccinate teachers at a private school.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to suspend vaccinations at the Beacon Hospital, with the exception of already scheduled appointments.
The move comes after it emerged on Friday that earlier this week the hospital used 20 doses left over at the end of a day to vaccinate some staff members at St Gerard’s School in Bray.
The south Dublin hospital, which was administering vaccines as part of the state rollout, apologised for its decision, claiming it was made under “time pressure”.
The hospital admitted the move was not in line with the HSE’s sequencing guidelines for vaccinating priority groups.
Mr Donnelly said the hospital’s actions were “entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable”.
The decision announced by Mr Donnelly on Saturday represents a change of heart for the minister, who on Friday night insisted suspending vaccinations at the hospital in the wake of the controversy would be “counterproductive”.
In a statement on Saturday, he said the HSE would be appointing a senior official to investigate what happened at the hospital.
“Ireland’s vaccination programme is the most important public health programme in living memory,” he said.
“It is essential that the programme is run in accordance with the agreed prioritisation in order to maximise the benefit of the vaccination programme and the speed with which Ireland can emerge from Covid-19 measures.
“The provision of vaccines by the Beacon Hospital to a school was entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable.
“I have considered this matter carefully and have worked with the HSE to assess the operational implications of suspending vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin.
“I have now asked the HSE to suspend vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital with the exception of those people who have already been scheduled to get their vaccine at the centre.
“Alternative arrangements are being put in place by the HSE.
“In addition, I have asked the HSE to appoint a senior official to immediately examine what happened and make recommendations regarding any actions or changes required.”
A further two Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland were reported by the Department of Health on Saturday, along with another 624 confirmed cases of the virus.
As of Saturday morning, 304 coronavirus patients were in hospital, of whom 64 were in ICU.
There were 21 additional hospital admissions in the previous 24 hours.