Hundreds of Covid-19 vaccine appointments are going to waste as healthcare workers are being scheduled for jabs they no longer need and cannot cancel.
The Irish Examiner reports 1,329 healthcare workers were scheduled for jabs yesterday at Dublin's Citywest vaccination centre, but only 757 attended, the HSE confirmed.
Chairman of the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Denis McCauley, said that as GPs become more involved in the rollout of the vaccine, the system will become more efficient as their surgeries are computerised.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr McCauley said the “no shows” at the vaccination centre on Thursday were due to duplication, as some healthcare workers could work in four different departments and so would have received four texts about getting the vaccine.
The problem was with the IT system in HSE-run clinics, he added. “It’s the IT systems with people on numerous lists.”
Moving to an age-based system where a date of birth will be the deciding factor will make matters easier, he said.
As a practitioner based close to the border, Dr McCauley said he had seen the “emotional change” in Northern Ireland as the vaccine was rolled out. “The body language there is much more of hope.” He said he hoped to see more optimism in the Republic.
Flaws in the system of scheduling frontline workers for jabs means people can often be eligible under more than one category or registered in more than one place, getting several appointments which are then wasted.
One pharmacist working in Dublin received the vaccine in Northern Ireland, but was later given four separate appointments at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.
The number which sends out the appointment text messages cannot be replied to.
The pharmacist then spent over two hours attempting to cancel the appointment or have the name changed in order for a colleague to avail of the slot, without managing to speak to anyone despite calling many numbers.
A HSE spokesperson said: “Issues arose because of the work underway across separate teams to finish the residue of Cohort 2 applicants. Work has now been undertaken to ensure that this does not reoccur.
“Where enquires were received people were told to accept the most convenient one. No vaccine was wasted as a result of this small number of double appointments.
“The HSE apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
In a further blow to confidence in the rollout programme, an independent review has found that a consultant at the Coombe Woman and Infants Hospital took two doses of vaccine home to give to family members.
It was confirmed that 16 relatives of hospital staff, including children of hospital master professor Michael O'Connell, received the vaccine when there were leftover doses on January 8, as the first stages of the vaccine rollout were getting underway.
The review found a consultant had leftover vaccine in a diluted vial and took it off the hospital campus to give to family.
The consultant did not recall a segment in a training video indicating transporting open vials is not possible, the review found.
The report comes amid ongoing concerns surrounding the rollout of vaccines, with the Government scaling back commitments to administer 1 million doses this month. – Additional reporting: Vivienne Clarke