Setbacks slow virus rollout
Early problems with Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout are being ironed out as the Federal Government assures the public safety is paramount.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implored families of aged-care residents not to be anxious amid reports of vaccines being delayed and a bungle that saw two elderly people given incorrect doses.
Health authorities had to dump up to 150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that had been left at the wrong temperature in Victoria.
It’s understood aged care residents at St Vincent’s Care Services in Werribee were vaccinated this week, with 25 vials of the vaccine left over.
Mr Morrison said logistical problems in the early phase of the rollout would be fixed quickly.
“I’m absolutely confident that as we go from day to day, the lessons of each day will only make the system better,” he told reporters in Sydney yesterday. “At all times, safety is the paramount issue.”
Vaccinations had been completed at 90 aged-care homes, with another 20 expected to be done yesterday.
Some 23,000 Australians have been vaccinated so far, including frontline healthcare workers and hotel quarantine staff. But the rollout has been slower than the Federal Government promised.
Healthcare Australia, which has the contract for the vaccination workforce in Queensland and NSW has scaled back and slowed down its processes.
The company was rebuked by the Government after two elderly nursing home residents in Brisbane were given too much of the vaccine by a doctor who had not completed mandatory jab training.
The 88-year-old and 94-year-old patients have shown no adverse reactions.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said vaccinations at other nursing homes were pushed back as a result.
Healthcare Australia is on notice its contract could be torn up if there are any more problems.
Sonic Healthcare is now helping with the residential aged care vaccine rollout in Queensland and NSW.
Aspen Medical has the Federal contract for the vaccination workforce in all other States and Territories.
Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said what happened with the 25 vials in Victoria was being investigated.
“It’s something that the team is looking at, whether there has been what we call a breach of cold chain,” Professor Skerritt told ABC radio.
The Pfizer vaccine has six doses in each vial and is stored at -70C.
Logistics company DHL is transporting the doses across the country in portable freezers.
Mr Morrison said Pfizer was looking at changes to the vaccine’s storage temperature, which was being considered by the TGA.
Victoria will soon ease mask rules and social gathering restrictions, despite recording two new locally acquired cases of coronavirus. Health authorities confirmed the two cases were close contacts of pre-existing cases and had been in quarantine during their infectious period.
South Australia has lifted the last of its travel restrictions, clearing the way for people from Melbourne to enter the State from yesterday.