Former ICTU boss David Begg among recipients of a vaccination
All board members at one of the country’s main public hospitals were offered Covid-19 vaccines that were delivered for frontline healthcare staff.
A spokeswoman for the Mater Hospital in Dublin confirmed “some board members accepted the offer”.
She said the intention was to protect staff and patients in the roll-out which led to 10,000 vaccinations among the hospital and community healthcare workers.
Hospital chairman David Begg (71) said he took the vaccine.
”I did not ask for it. The decision was made by the clinicians based on the risk to the hospital of people coming in and the risk to people themselves,” he said.
The former head of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and GOAL chief said he has underlying conditions and is frequently in the hospital as chairman, spending eight hours there on Tuesday.
The revelation last night led to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to look for a briefing from the HSE on yet another incident where people outside a designated group got the vaccine.
“The minister will be seeing an account from the HSE,” a spokesman for Mr Donnelly said.
Earlier HSE chief Paul Reid said he was looking into the matter and said he was unaware until the disclosure.
He insisted there is clear guidance for administering vaccines and how to utilise left over supplies.
However, the spokeswoman confirmed this was a policy decision by the Mater and said “all staff and board members were offered the vaccine”.
She said the “board is an integral part of the functioning of the hospital and this is particularly the case throughout the pandemic.
“Some members are required to attend the hospital in person as important issues arise which require board oversight.”
The members of the board listed on the Mater website include David Begg, vice chair David O’Kelly, hospital chief executive Alan Sharp, Rod Ensor, Eilis O’Brien, Brid Cosgrove, Professor Cecily Kelleher, Dr Mary Menamin, Prof Padraig McMathuna and Suzanne Dempsey.
Last month Tony Garry, the former chief executive of Davy Stockbrokers and one of the 16 people involved in the Anglo bond deal, stepped down from the board.
Medical and nursing members of the board were vaccinated separately as part of their jobs. The vaccination status of others, apart from Mr Begg, is not known.
Mr Begg said they received the vaccine before the HSE issued guidelines.
Not all members of the board have to go into the hospital and “not everyone got the vaccine”. All members did not necessarily want it, he added.
“I was in there eight hours on Tuesday. I suffer from diabetes, hypertension and thyroid problems.”
He said when he is in the hospital he is encountering patients who may be wheeled past him in trolleys.
“It is compounded by being in a vulnerable age with medical conditions.”
He said he did not ask who else received the vaccine.
“I am in the age and underlying condition category even if you completely ignored by role in the hospital.” He pointed out the Mater housed the national isolation unit for infectious diseases and posed risks to vulnerable people who might be on site.
“The decision on the vaccines was based on the risk to the hospital and the risk to people coming into the hospital.”
Latest figures show that as of Sunday 663,411 people had received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and 272,676 were fully vaccinated.
The Department of Health provided figures on possible Covid-19 deliveries over April, May and June which could see 3.9 million doses arriving here, higher than the previous forecast.
A further five Covid-19 related deaths were reported yesterday and a further 423 cases. The five-day moving average is now 430 which is lower than it was. Yesterday’s cases included 199 in Dublin, 41 in Kildare, 23 in Meath and 20 in Galway.
There was a further fall numbers in hospital with the virus to 232 and in intensive care there was a drop to 56.