Private jabs cause public uproar

The Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin. file photo

By Anthony Neeson

Ireland's Health Services Executive has been asked to suspend a Covid-19 vaccination program at a privately-owned Dublin hospital.

It comes after the Beacon Hospital administered twenty vaccines to teachers at a fee-paying school in Bray, County Wicklow.

The children of the chief executive of the Beacon Hospital chief executive attend the school.

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the action was "entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable."

"I have considered this matter carefully and have worked with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to assess the operational implications of suspending vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin," Mr. Donnelly said.

"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."

The hospital has apologized, claiming the decision was made under “time pressure."

With the Republic of Ireland’s vaccine roll-out lagging behind Northern Ireland, the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster has told RTÉ that she has spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about offering surplus vaccines from the UK to the Republic. She said she will speak to the Prime Minister about it again.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he wasn’t aware of any offer.

"Of course, if there was we'd be very interested in talking to the British government about that," he told RTÉ.

"There may well be excess vaccines at some point in the future, but I don't think we're realistically looking at that for many, many weeks yet."

The Irish government's Cabinet is meeting this week to discuss the easing of Covid restrictions. Although the number of people in hospitals with Covid-19 is falling, cases of the virus in the community have remained stubborn.