The Irish health minister will be seeking a “full account” after leftover vaccines were given to some relatives of staff at a Dublin hospital.
Stephen Donnelly said the incident, on 8 January at Coombe Maternity Hospital, “should not have happened”.
The hospital said that by 21:00 local time that day there were 16 vaccine doses left after 1,100 staff, GPs and health workers were vaccinated.
A spokesperson said the doses would have been discarded otherwise.
As first reported by the Irish Times, the hospital Master, Prof Michael O’Connell said that the decision had been taken to “ensure that not a single reconstituted vaccine was wasted.”
However he apologised and said that “in hindsight, as master I deeply regret that family members of employees were vaccinated and for that I wholeheartedly apologise.”
In a statement on Monday, Mr Donnelly said he had been made aware “of a situation with regard to the administration of vaccines on Friday”.
“Trust in the vaccine programme is of critical importance and what happened should not have happened,” the statement added.
The health minister said a priority list for vaccination had been set out.
In the Republic of Ireland this is currently for frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff long-term residential care facilities.
“It does not include family members of healthcare workers,” said the minister.
The Coombe Hospital said the Health Service Executive (HSE) booking system and portal was not yet live.
Because of this it had not been possible to pre-book vaccinations and be sure of the number of vaccinations required.
The spokesperson said that the hospital “worked throughout the day, reconstituting the vials and making vaccines available to frontline workers.”
In a statement they added: “The team at the hospital proactively contacted the HSE to inform them of the additional available doses and actively sought out frontline workers to vaccinate.
“The hospital followed government guidelines and focussed on the two current priority groups”.
At the end of the day when 16 vaccine doses were left “and to ensure that vaccines were not wasted they were administered to family members of employees of the hospital”.
“Of the 16 recipients, nine were over 70 and the remaining seven were of varying age. It would not be appropriate for the hospital to comment on the individuals involved”.
Ireland received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine on 26 December and the first vaccinations were administered on 29 December.