Around 100 gardai were given vaccines from “standby lists” at a vaccination centre on the outskirts of Limerick this week.
“An Garda Síochána has confirmed that where offers of surplus vaccine are made by the Health Service Executive, or its agents, that members of An Garda Síochána may accept those offers,” said a UL Hospitals spokesman.
“Approximately 100 vaccines have been administered this week to members of An Garda Síochána at the Limerick vaccination centre in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ennis Road,” they said.
“Vaccines were offered to local garda management from the standby lists that each centre develops in line with national guidance on cohorts and sequencing. Local Gardaí work closely with our services, including their attendance at the Emergency Department in UHL when required, and supporting the set-up and roll-out of the Vaccination Centres,” they added.
Limerick President of the Garda Representative Association, Frank Thornton, said “the govenment has made a balls” of the vaccine rollout programme.
Mr Thornton said he was due to meet with representatives from NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) to try to convince them that gardai should be prioritised for vaccination.
“We are grateful for the offer of vaccines from the HSE and their acknowledgement of our role in suppressing this virus, and long may it continue, anywhere we can get them we’ll take them,” he said.
“I am waiting to meet NIAC to critique their science behind changing the vaccine rollout. It appears they don’t seem to care if you get the virus, it just depends on your age and how quickly you recover from it.”
“There is no acknowledgment to our exposure to the virus, 24 hours a day, nor the exposure to our families, nor the exposure to the public when we call to their house to help them.”
“The public haven’t a clue who is coming in their door and I could be absolutely bringing in wads of covid and have no idea about it. It starves logic and it seems to be a snapshot decision.”
“The government has made an absolute balls of this, and the frontline garda members that I am representing nationwide, in particular in Limerick, are furious with the government and their treatment of us.”
A HSE advisory document on sequencing of COVID-19 vaccination of frontline of healthcare workers which is subject to regular review, staff are advised that “no dose should be wasted” and that vaccination 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 consider establishing standby lists of other people in allocation groups 3 (people aged 70 and older) and 4 healthcare workers (provisional vaccine allocation group 4) who are available at short notice and are randomly selected from the lists for vaccination if for any reason frontline healthcare workers are not available and the alternative is that vaccine dose expires.”
Meanwhile, sources said unrest was brewing among members of the force, after some gardai attached to a station in the mid west recently voiced concerns that colleagues from another station in the same county had received vaccine doses but they had not.
Sources also said eleven members of the force were recently sidelined by the virus in one station alone in the region.
A garda spokesman said “the roll out and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is a matter for the HSE”.