Sunday, November 28

Covid-19 vaccine error: man still waiting for answers on what to do

An Aucklander who is caught up in a possible confusion at the Highbrook Vaccination Center has yet to be contacted by the Ministry of Health and the designated helpline had no idea what he was talking about.

Vaccination against Covid-19.  Paris, France (Photo by VOISIN / Phanie / Phanie via AFP)

File photo.

This is the second person who has been in contact with RNZ unhappy with communication from health officials about the incident.

Five patients out of more than 700 may have received the wrong dose of Pfizer vaccine or just saline on July 12 and were still not informed six weeks later until the RNZ released the story.

The saline solution is used as a diluent for the vaccine after it has been thawed.

Once the incident was made public, Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said that all those affected would be contacted within 24 hours by email or letter.

Paul * said he decided to contact Healthline after not having received a letter for almost a week and was referred to Vaccine Healthline.

The Health Ministry said it provided the same information in the letter to the Sanitary Vaccination Line last Monday.

However, when Paul contacted the vaccine line the following afternoon, the person who received the call had difficulty finding it in their records and tried to refer it back to Healthline.

When he declined to call Healthline again, he said the advice he received from the person who received the call was “extraordinary.”

“They literally said on the call that I was fine because my immunization card said Pfizer, it didn’t say saline,” he said.

Paul informed the person who got the call that he was vaccinated on July 12 and that he should have received a letter, to which they replied that there was no letter on file so he would not be affected.

When he asked for confirmation in writing, it was denied.

“All I want is a little peace of mind or to be told what to do, or to get my letter,” he said.

He then asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that he would receive a phone call.

They contacted him late that night and told him that he would receive a letter in the mail, but could not say when.

Paul asked for the letter to be emailed to him as he had provided his email but has not received it yet.

He said he does not blame the callers or vaccinators, but is concerned that other people will receive similar misinformation and not question it.

Chris Bishop from National said it’s impossible to believe this person was told he was okay, because his vaccination card said Pfizer instead of saline.

“The whole problem is that people are not sure whether or not they received Pfizer or saline, so the idea that would be written on their card is incredible.

“We urgently need to know exactly what happened and the ministry must conclude its investigation, which has already taken a few weeks,” he said.

The Health Ministry did not say how many people it was unable to contact, but a spokesperson said there were times when emails were recovered.

“When we had other contact details, it was used instead to contact the person. For some people, no other contact details were withheld,” they said.

RNZ has agreed to keep the identity of the person vaccinated at Highbrook anonymous due to the impact it could have on their employment.

The ministry said it would not release further information unless RNZ gave them the patient’s contact details.

He ignored questions about whether the information he had provided to the Vaccination Helpline had been passed on to staff.

A spokesperson said those affected will be informed of next steps no later than September 10 and the ministry will not offer further comment.

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