Saturday, November 27

Vaccines abroad are a problem for the Ministry of Health


The Health Ministry says it does not recognize the vaccines that a person has received abroad.

A generic image of a vaccine, a needle.

Vaccine for COVID-19.
Photo: 123RF

Vaccines administered abroad cannot be added to a person’s immunization record or verified for authenticity.

RNZ understands that there could be more than 1000 people in contact with the ministry to have their vaccines recognized here abroad.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said work is urgently underway on a system to verify vaccines abroad, ahead of the planned launch of vaccine certificates next month.

Earlier this year, a woman and her partner received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Northland, when there was a Covid-19 scare ahead of Waitangi Day.

Weeks later, they received a second dose of the vaccine while in the United States.

Eight months later, the vaccine has not been added to your vaccination record here in New Zealand.

“Although it is registered on the little white card they gave us in New Zealand, it has the type of vaccine that Pfizer is, it has the date it was administered, the batch number and any other information it contains, everything is registered. same card, “said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“But as far as the New Zealand Ministry of Health is concerned, we have only had one vaccine.”

He said officials are sympathetic to his situation, but have no answers at this time.

“As silly as it may sound, it seems like it’s a management problem.

“They don’t seem to have the ability to register it, although I find it hard to believe. They say they can’t register any vaccine that has been administered outside of New Zealand.”

The Ministry of Health has provided few options on how to rectify the situation.

“It was suggested that if we wanted to register two doses we could have another vaccine.

“They are still chasing us to get dose number two, even though we have had it and told them so numerous times. They have seen that we can take another dose.”

He said he is concerned about how the vaccination issue will affect his chances of obtaining a vaccination certificate, which Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said will be available starting next month.

And while she is willing to receive a third injection of the Pfizer vaccine, with some countries now giving a third booster injection, she said it would still have implications in the future.

“At first glance, in a few months I could have another vaccine and I will have had three, which is equivalent to the initial two and the booster.

“But what worries me is that if I travel abroad, my record will not be correct because all my records from New Zealand just show that I have had two, when in fact I have had three.”

Health Ministry officials he has dealt with say it is a big problem, with possibly thousands of people in a similar situation: having been vaccinated with doses that are not recognized in New Zealand.

Bloomfield said it is a multifaceted issue.

He said the ministry is giving advice on which vaccines (AstraZeneca, Janssen or Moderna, for example) it will recognize for future trips to the country.

But he is also working on how to verify and record the vaccinations of people abroad.

“At the moment, if people have received one or both vaccines abroad, it is not easy to enter them into the Covid vaccination registry,” said Bloomfield.

“They may have had the first here, the second, the same vaccine, Pfizer, in the United States or something like that.

“We are now working on a process where we can verify that and then enter it into the Covid immunization registry so they can be classified as fully vaccinated.”

Bloomfield said he hopes there will be a system in place by the time the vaccine certificates roll out next month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there will be no adverse implications for people if the ministry is not ready with a verification system by the time the certificates are presented.

“I’m sure we can find a solution,” Ardern said.

“We do not intend to invalidate someone’s legitimate vaccine if they have received it abroad, so it is just a matter of making sure we have a solution.”

Bloomfield admits that vaccination verification will be easier in some countries than others, but there will be no discrimination against people who received a vaccine in less developed countries.


www.rnz.co.nz

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