HEALTH MINISTER Stephen Donnelly has moved to halt vaccinations from being administered at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin.
It follows the revelations that the private hospital’s management gave spare vaccines to staff at a private school in St Gerard’s in Bray, Co Wicklow.
Beacon Hospital had issued an apology over the incident, claiming that the situation came about after discovering they had 20 “leftover” vaccine doses this past Tuesday.
This has done little to appease the public, with many still furious that 20 teachers and support staff were allowed to jump the queue while some of Ireland’s most vulnerable still await inoculation.
After initially announcing plans to work with Beacon staff to ensure standards were met, the Health Minister has now opted to cease vaccinations from being given at the hospital all together.
Only those who are already scheduled to receive a jab at the private hospital will continue to do so.
Donnelly made the decision amid the public outcry and after further reflection on the scandal, which he branded "entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable".
The Health Minister announced the decision in a statement that read: "Ireland’s vaccination programme is the most important public health programme in living memory.
"It is essential that the programme is run in accordance with the agreed prioritisation in order to maximise the benefit of the vaccination programme and the speed with which Ireland can emerge from COVID-19 measures.
"The provision of vaccines by the Beacon Hospital to a school was entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable.
"I have considered this matter carefully and have worked with the HSE to assess the operational implications of suspending vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin.
"I have now asked the HSE to suspend vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital with the exception of those people who have already been scheduled to get their vaccine at the centre.
"Alternative arrangements are being put in place by the HSE.
"In addition, I have asked the HSE to appoint a senior official to immediately examine what happened and make recommendations regarding any actions or changes required."
Micheal Martin has backed the decision with a spokesperson for the Taoiseach saying: “The vaccines belong to the Irish people.
“There are clear rules and guidelines in relation to their administration.
“These prioritise the most vulnerable and frontline healthcare workers.
“There are specific rules relating to the allocation of surplus vaccines at the end of a day’s administration.
“Clearly, these rules and guidelines were broken by The Beacon Hospital.
“What happened was wrong and a breach of trust. Behaviour of this sort undermines confidence in the vaccination programme.
“The CEO should be held accountable for his actions by the board of The Beacon Hospital.
“In response, the Minister for Health has now asked the HSE to suspend vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital with the exception of those people who have already been scheduled to get their vaccine at the centre. Alternative arrangements are being put in place by the HSE.”