Questions raised over vaccine mix-up

It took the Government more than a month to inform the public about possible incorrect vaccine doses being administered at the Highbrook vaccine centre. Times photo Wayne Martin

The Government is being criticised for waiting more than a month to reveal people may have been injected with incorrect Covid-19 vaccine doses in east Auckland.

As the Times reported on August 25, a Ministry of Health investigation is under way into people possibly receiving an incorrect dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Highbrook vaccination centre on July 12.

The centre is temporarily closed.

Jo Gibbs, the national director for the Covid-19 vaccine and immunisation programme, says a situation arose at the Highbrook vaccination centre where the end-of-day reconciliation of doses didn’t match those administered.

“Although no patient harm would have resulted, at this stage we can’t rule out the possibility that five people may have received an incorrect vaccine dose.

“The situation that occurred relates to just five doses that were unaccounted for at the end of that day, during which 732 people were vaccinated.”

Gibbs says the error may have happened due to some vaccinators getting more than the regular number of doses out of some vials and forgetting to record it.

“An alternative we can’t rule out is the possibility some people didn’t receive the correct vaccine dose.”

The Ministry of Health has since written to people vaccinated at the Highbrook centre on July 12 to inform them of the situation.

Botany MP Christopher Luxon says he has a number of questions about the possible incorrect vaccine doses that need to be answered.

“The critical questions the Government needs to answer are why has it taken so long since July 12 for what happened to surface and why did it take a media enquiry for the issue to become public?

“I think for so people can be reassured, the solution should be for all 732 people vaccinated that day to be offered a serology test to ensure they have the antibodies in their system to fight Covid-19.”

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says it’s concerning to hear a number of people who were vaccinated in Highbrook may have received saline instead of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“It’s critical the Ministry of Health figures out as soon as possible who these people are, provides them the opportunity to get vaccinated and also to ensure this doesn’t take place again to give New Zealanders assurances about the vaccination rollout.

“It’s also concerning the Highbrook vaccination centre has been closed … with no notice as to when it will reopen.

“I’m aware of a number of constituents who turned up with bookings who were not told [beforehand] the centre was closed.”

Brown says he’s written to the Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins about these issues.

Hipkins was recently questioned about the July 12 incident at the Highbrook vaccination centre by MPs on Parliament’s health select committee.

He said: “At this point, it is impossible to conclude whether this was a data error, and simply that things weren’t recorded appropriately, or whether there is a real risk that potentially five people got a vaccine that was either diluted or didn’t have the active vaccine component in it.”