Confusion continues over vaccine priority list 

Healthcare workers and patient representatives continue to raise concerns around who is getting the Covid-19 vaccine 
Confusion continues over vaccine priority list 

'We are hearing stories of paramedics bring denied vaccines, radiographers given the vaccine in one hospital but not the next and the same for health support workers.' Picture: Larry Cummins

As confusion continues over how the vaccine priority list is being applied, trade unions have questioned HSE chief executive Paul Reid as to why paramedics have not been listed yet.

Following reports of family members and non-frontline staff getting the vaccine ahead of priority groups, trade unions have now met with the HSE vaccination team.

Siptu Health Division organiser Kevin Figgis said after the meeting: 

We are hearing stories of paramedics bring denied vaccines, radiographers given the vaccine in one hospital but not the next and the same for health support workers. It should not matter what your title is or who you are, but what you do should be important.” 

Dublin fire brigade staff are also paramedics but do not have a schedule. A timetable was set up but cancelled to make way for nursing homes.

In a letter to Paul Reid, seen by the Irish Examiner, unions ask why ambulance paramedics were not included in vaccination clinics run for GPs last weekend.

Shane McGill, Siptu convenor said: “There is still no schedule for us, it has been a week and a day since they cancelled the first one. We are frontline workers, and vulnerable to the virus. We’ve been pushed back down the ladder.” 

Firefighters support the HSE ambulance service nationally.  Cathal Murray, Cork-based chair of the full-time fire-fighters division in Siptu, said some stations were badly affected by Covid-19.

“To date, no full-time firefighter division has been given a date for the vaccine. That is very disappointing. We have no idea where we are on the list,” he said. Both said their members would give the vaccines if allowed. 

Mental health units are also experiencing patchy application of the rules. One Cork healthcare worker said: “There is still no plan in place to vaccinate elderly patients here. They’re the same age as the people in nursing homes.” 

Gary Kiernan, director of regulation for the Mental Health Commission, said: “Some services are getting access but there is no overall plan for the mental health services. The HSE has told us they are being prioritised. We are looking for parity for the older residents with those in nursing homes. We want the HSE to follow the plan.” 

People with cystic fibrosis have been left confused by the priority list as it places them in a different category than the HSE ranking during the pandemic.

Philip Watt, CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland said: 

There is a disconnect between the HSE list of vulnerable people and the department priority plan. There are inconsistencies with that list and there is a lot of anxiety around that.” 

Most nurses are receiving vaccines, but there are gaps. Laura, a student midwife at a Midlands hospital said: “I don’t know when vaccines are coming, I don’t know how to get my name on a list, all I know is that none of the midwives have yet been vaccinated.” 

And while GP vaccination has opened, challenges continue with the IT booking system.

Co Clare GP Yvonne Williams said: “Not everyone can manage the clunky portal, it takes five or six gos to get it right. For me it was worse than a Ryanair booking system for a family.” 

A HSE spokesman said: “All of the priority groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.”

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