A nurse in a general practice has said it is not good enough that ‘pure luck’ is playing a factor in some frontline workers receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
Maria Commins told The Mayo News that she and a colleague were twice told to drive from their base in east Mayo last week to a nursing home in Boyle to be given the vaccination, to only discover it was not available when they arrived.
She revealed it was ‘third time lucky’ when she finally received a vaccination in Boyle on Sunday, and she has criticised the lack of efficiency in the rollout of the vaccine to health workers.
“For the third day in a row, our two cars parked side by side, we arrive in this north Roscommon town. The nurse in charge of this nursing home clearly wasn’t expecting us. She was distressed that we were there and was very vocal in telling us she didn’t want ‘randomers’ coming into her families nursing home. She hadn’t been informed about it.
“In the end myself and my colleague got vaccinated in our cars. Please don’t get me wrong, we are very grateful to have received this vaccine. We were not at all upset about when we got it. We know there are many of our frontline healthcare colleagues waiting on this vaccine. Our issue is with the lack of communication throughout this process.
“Despite our best efforts we could not find out who was actually in charge and responsible for our vaccine to happen. It reeks of disorganisation from the HSE. I live in Ballinrobe. This town in question is one hour 15 minutes from my home. Since Friday, I have spent nearly seven-and-a-half hours travelling up and down, only to receive my vaccine [on Sunday],” she said.
The way the vaccine is being distributed to healthcare workers has also been criticised by Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, who is a member of the HSE West Health Forum.
“It’s appalling the way the vaccine is being distributed. There seems to be nobody in charge at all, and I would just wonder why there is a Minister for Health. In terms of Mayo University Hospital, there is frustration from the staff. There is frustration from everyone out there. It seems to be total chaos.
“Some people have got the vaccine and there is no such thing as getting an appointment and the vaccine is there for you. They are running out of vaccines and all of this kind of stuff. It is just total chaos.
“This priority list must be for optics, because they have not been following it. It’s particularly frustrating for people who are on the frontline, frontline staff who are dealing with people who have Covid. Every time they walk into work they’re putting themselves into danger.”
In response, the HSE stated that vaccine rollout plans must be flexible to accommodate unforeseen events and to operate in what is an evolving and fluid situation internationally.
“A key factor of the rollout strategy is to reduce the risk of any wastage,” the statement reads. “Specific guidance was issued on January 12 last in relation to the sequencing of vaccinations of frontline healthcare workers and recognises the importance of using all available doses within a vial.
“Updated sequencing guidance was then issued on January 19 to clarify some points to ensure a firm understanding of the correct protocols and underline the importance of ensuring that staff referred for vaccination reflects the order in the sequencing document to the greatest extent that is practical.
“Centres should establish standby lists of frontline healthcare workers later in the sequence order that are available at short notice and that are randomly selected from the lists for vaccination in the event that frontline healthcare workers earlier in the sequence order do not attend or cannot receive the vaccine.”
Centres should also consider establishing similar standby lists of other people in allocation groups 3 (people aged 70 and older) and 4 (other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact), the HSE said.