Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 vaccine bug in Auckland sparks investigation


Five Aucklanders who came for their Covid-19 vaccine last month may have received a dose of saline instead, but the Health Ministry has yet to tell them.

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Photo: AFP

The ministry has not yet been able to say what will be done to ensure that those affected receive two full doses of Pfizer.

RNZ was alerted due to concerns that there may be vulnerable people in the community who mistakenly believe they are fully vaccinated.

The error occurred at the Highbrook vaccination center in Auckland and RNZ understands that the problem was discovered at the end of the day, when staff realized that there was an extra vaccine vial left.

This has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, which said that “the stock of vaccines did not coincide with the number of doses administered.”

That day 732 people were vaccinated, made up of people from groups 1, 2 and 3.

Those groups include border workers, high-risk frontline healthcare workers, those over the age of 65, and those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Some would have received their first dose, others the second.

The national director of the Covid-19 vaccination and immunization program, Jo Gibbs, said that five doses were not counted at the end of the day.

“It could have been because some vaccinators got more than the normal number of doses from some vials and forgot to record this. One alternative that we cannot rule out is the possibility that some people may not have received the correct dose of the vaccine. ,” she said.

RNZ understands that the vaccination center was unable to determine who the five affected people were.

Typically, a vial of Pfizer vaccine contains multiple doses that are then diluted with saline once it has been thawed in place.

RNZ has been told that these people may have received very little vaccine or only saline instead.

The likely scenario is believed to be that saline has been added to an already used vial.

Gibbs said that the wrong dose would not have harmed the patient and that “these kinds of situations happen from time to time.”

A full review has since been conducted, he said.

“We are working on that report to determine our next steps, including discussing with other jurisdictions about their response when similar events occur,” he said.

Gibbs said the ministry had a “principle of open communication with the patients involved.”

However, when asked if that means potentially affected patients have been informed, the ministry confirmed that they have not yet been contacted.

“We are still gathering the information necessary to fully understand the situation and provide any advice or support that may be necessary.

“We will reach out to people who may have been affected when that work is completed,” he said.

The Code of Rights of Consumers of Health and Disabled Services gives all consumers the right to open communication with a provider.

“A consumer must be informed of any adverse event, that is, when the consumer has suffered unintentional harm while receiving disability or health care services.

“An error that affected consumer care but does not appear to have caused harm may also need to be disclosed to the consumer. Notification of an error may be relevant to future care decisions.”

A disclosure must include acknowledgment of the incident, an explanation of what happened, how it happened, why it happened and, if any, what actions have been taken to prevent it from happening again, he said.

The Australians offered an extra shot

A similar case has occurred in Australia in [Https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-28/ultra-low-vaccine-dose-rockhampton-central-qld/100331270 Rockhampton Hospital in Queensland] last month.

As a result, six people received an ultra-low dose of the vaccine and may not have been vaccinated.

The 159 people who received the vaccine that day were contacted within a week and offered a repeat dose.


www.rnz.co.nz

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