Senior office staff at a state agency were told by managers to register as healthcare workers in order to skip the queue for Covid-19 vaccines.
Management at child and family agency Tusla instructed ineligible managers and other staff working from home to use the HSE healthcare workers vaccine portal to sign up for vaccinations.
The senior staff members are Information and Advice Officers based across the country and have been working from home for over a year. They were recently informed by management that they will be working remotely until at least 2022.
A mid-March email from the office of a Tusla service director instructed these staff members to complete and return a form to allow the agency’s human resources department compile lists for staff vaccinations.
In a later email, these same workers were sent a link to the healthcare workers vaccination portal and told to register for vaccination appointments. The email told these officers:
"When you are registering, the category (sequencing group) is 2(g)," referring to the HSE’s vaccination guidelines for healthcare workers.
Information and Advice Officers do not however fall under this category, which according to the HSE is reserved for “healthcare workers... working in a healthcare facility with the potential to meet patients/service users”.
Admin staff at adoption tracing service also received vaccine
Email correspondence seen by The Ditch confirms the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine to these officers approximately a week after management sent them the healthcare workers portal link and instructed them to register.
The HSE recently closed the healthcare workers vaccine portal amid a landslide of allegations of misuse by those not yet entitled to vaccines.
Tusla confirmed the HSE had provided vaccination guidelines in February and that administrative staff did not fall under the HSE's definition of healthcare worker. But a spokesperson refused to confirm which staff groups had been vaccinated.
Meanwhile it emerged that all administrative staff at Tusla’s Adoption Information and Tracing Service in Blanchardstown’s Nexus Building have received the Covid-19 vaccine – despite also not falling under the HSE definition of healthcare worker.
“All our adoption services staff in the Nexus Building have all been vaccinated in Citywest,” said a staff member at the facility, in audio obtained by The Ditch.
The office of the service director that instructed Information and Advice Officers to register as healthcare workers on the HSE vaccine portal is also located in the Nexus Building.
Tusla head of external communications Eleanor Reidy said the HSE on 8 February provided Tusla with guidelines for vaccine provision for healthcare workers, which outline when these workers should receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Reidy refused to confirm Information and Advice Officers had been told to register as healthcare workers by Tusla management and had received the Covid-19 vaccine as a result.
“We are not in a position to comment on the vaccination status of individual staff members or specific groups,” said Reidy.
Reidy refused to comment on whether Tusla considers Information and Advice Officers as healthcare workers for the purpose of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Reidy did however concede that administrative staff, such as those working in Tusla’s Adoption Information and Tracing Service, do not fall under the HSE’s definition of frontline healthcare worker in the vaccination sequencing guidelines.
Reidy claimed that the HSE offered vaccination appointments to Tusla staff, and that “Tusla had no direct role in the scheduling of vaccination for staff.”