The minister for health acknowledged that some elderly patients had passed away following vaccination, but that underlying conditions and not the injection caused their demise. 

Following reports from several nursing homes that a number of elderly residents had died in the days following their vaccination, Minister Stephen Donnely has said the cases investigated by the Health Product Regulatory Authority (HPRA) did not raise any concern regarding the safe use of mRNA vaccines “in this (elderly) population”.

Asked by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD if any death of a patient in Ireland has been associated with any of the three Covid-19 vaccines licensed to date, the health minister’s written response confirmed that the HPRA had received a “small number of reports of elderly patients, who had underlying conditions and passed away following vaccination.”

“These reports have been carefully reviewed and based on the information provided, have not raised any concern regarding the safe use of Comirnaty (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine) in this population,” Donnelly said.

“It can be expected that fatalities due to progression of underlying disease or natural causes will continue to occur, including following vaccination, however, this does not mean it was caused by the vaccine.

In his Parliamentary Question to the minister, Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh also asked if “the relevant health bodies have a duty to investigate deaths in circumstances in which death occurred shortly after the administration of the first or second dose of such vaccines,” to which Donnelly replied in the affirmative.

“The HPRA follows up on reports of suspected adverse reactions received from Healthcare professionals and members of the public through the voluntary reporting system, including any deaths notified following vaccination,” the minister wrote.

369 elderly people died in Irish nursing homes in January, bringing the total number of nursing homes deaths since the outbreak to over 1,500.