Kilkenny TD ‘furious’ over number of St Luke’s staff left without vaccinations

John McGuinness has described the situation as 'outrageous'

Sam Matthews

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Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

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Deputy John McGuinness

Local TD John McGuinness has said it is ‘outrageous’ that half the staff in St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny have yet to be vaccinated and have no indication as to when they will be.

The Ireland East Hospital Group yesterday (Tuesday) confirmed 738 staff have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, but Deputy McGuinness says that’s out of a total of around 1,400 working there.

“There is no indication as to when they are going to get the balance of it. Doctors are not done, 80% of the community is not done,” he said.

The Fianna Fail TD says staff are at a loss to understand the situation and it is causing significant anxiety in the hospital, but they could not seem to get any answers.

“I am furious over this. How can you vaccinate 700 in a hospital that is bursting at the seams out there and not do the other 700, and not even give a date for it?”

Deputy McGuinness said it was not about jumping any queue, but he wanted to know why a hospital group in the South-East (IEHG) had not been given the same priority as another hospital group in Munster that had fewer staff.

“It really is a farce when the frontline workers are not being prioritised in hospitals in a way that is fair and equitable, and the staff out there are deeply concerned about it. It is just outrageous to be honest about it.”

The IEHG began the roll-out of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on January 5. To date 738 healthcare workers across all grades of staff (between hospital staff, the National Ambulance Service and the primary care setting) have received their first dose of the vaccine in the hospital. All staff within the Ireland East Hospital Group will be vaccinated in due course as and when vaccines become available.

A spokesperson for the IEHG said all its hospitals, including St Luke’s, are vaccinating staff in line with priority recommendations issued by the Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE. Vaccines are distributed in as equitable a manner as possible and as current vaccine supplies allow.

“Figures for staff who declined or were unable to attend a vaccine appointment are extremely low,” said the spokesperson.

“No expired vaccines have been reported to the Group to date.”

The IEHG did not comment on a query in relation to the number of ambulance/paramedic staff who had been vaccinated, and as to how many such staff were currently isolating or absent as a result of Covid or self-isolation.