Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has described reports that board members at the Mater Hospital were offered a Covid-19 vaccine as “completely unacceptable.”
Mr Donnelly told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that the vaccine roll-out programme was going “really well” but that “completely unacceptable situations with the board of the Mater, for example, with the Beacon Hospital, for example, schools in south Dublin and north Wicklow CHO
Mr Donnelly said these incidents were "a tiny, tiny fraction of the million doses that will be administered - but they do undermine confidence”.
The Health Minister said that in the European Union (EU), Ireland had the highest rate of over-80s vaccinated.
He said the programme at national level continues to be very successfu.
“It's not perfect, obviously, there are issues - but when you compare to the rest of the European Union, we're doing really well,” said Mr Donnelly.
Earlier, Dr Mary Favier, former President of the Irish College of GPs (ICGP) and member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), expressed disappointment that people in positions of leadership had taken the Covid-19 vaccine out of sequence.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Favier said that as a general rule they should "stick to the science and show that they believe in it."
When asked about the case of directors at the Master Hospital receiving the vaccine, Dr Favier said she did not know details of the specific case, but that it was “very disappointing.”
She said people in positions of leadership needed to show that they believed in the system of prioritisation.
Sometimes that would mean stepping back and saying that they would leave the offered vaccine to those who needed it, she said.
Responding to a report on RTÉ radio’s Liveline on Wednesday when Limerick GP Kieran Murphy told of the intimidation experienced by his practice from people upset that they or relatives had not received the vaccine, Dr Favier said “he’s one of the good guys.”
GPs around the country had experienced similar upset, she said.
While she understood people’s frustrations it was never an excuse to abuse reception staff for something that could not be changed.
“It’s really not ok and we ask people to be patient,” she said.
Dr Favier also encouraged anyone due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine to go ahead and keep the vaccination appointment as the blood clot risks were “truly tiny” compared to the risks from Covid-19.
The risk of clots from a long-haul flight was “way higher”, she said, “We balance those risks”.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) would meet this week to review the issue of clots from AstraZeneca, she said, but “hands down” it was safer to take the vaccine than risk Covid-19.
There was “a remote possibility” that AstraZeneca would not be approved for young women at a later stage, she said.
But by the time that cohort would be eligible for vaccination in Ireland, it would be late summer and much more would be known by then.