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*Senator Martin Conway. Photograph: John Mangan

A Clare Senator has backed the decision to suspend vaccine operations at a private hospital in Dublin.

On Saturday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (FF) asked the HSE to suspend vaccine operations at the Beacon Hospital, with the exception of persons scheduled to get their vaccine.

It followed a report by The Irish Daily Mail which revealed that 20 teachers and staff at the fee-paying St Gerard’s Catholic School in Bray received ‘left-over’ vaccines at the private hospital. The children of Beacon Hospital CEO, Michael Cullen attend the well-known private school in Wicklow.

Minister Donnelly noted that the vaccination programme was “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”.

He called the provision of vaccines by the Beacon Hospital to St Gerard’s “entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable”. Donnelly added, “I have asked the HSE to appoint a senior official to immediately examine what happened and make recommendations regarding any actions or changes required”.

Senator Martin Conway (FG) believed the decision made by the Health Minister was a “necessary step in order to restore public confidence and trust in the rollout of vaccinations”. The Ennistymon man stated, “The provision of vaccines to a private school by the Beacon was totally wrong and should not have happened. Queue jumping of this nature is unethical, immoral and cannot be allowed to happen again.

“Public confidence in the rollout of vaccines is critically important and I believe that this swift action by the Minister will help protect the integrity of the programme. We have been through so much as a result of Covid-19, but the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel for all of us,” the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Health commented.

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