Two aged care residents who were given four times the correct dose of the Covid-19 vaccine have suffered no adverse effects, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.
A 94-year-old woman and an 88-year-old man were given too much of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, the second day of Australia’s vaccination rollout, at Holy Spirit aged care home in Carseldine, Brisbane.
Both were admitted to hospital for observation but the woman has been returned to the home while the man remains for an unrelated elective surgery.
The two elderly people given an incorrect dose of the Pfizer vaccine re residents at the Holy Spirit Nursing Home Carseldine in Brisbane (pictured)
Minister for Health Greg Hunt addressed the nation’s vaccine rollout and bungle on Wednesday morning (pictured)
Healthcare Australia, a company contracted by the federal government to give vaccines in aged care homes, has been put on notice after an investigation found the doctor who administered the jab had not completed immunisation training.
Minister Hunt blasted the company for initially telling him the doctor had done the online course on how to administer the jab.
When officials asked for proof, the company came clean and admitted the doctor was untrained.
‘The thing that particularly upset us was the combination of somebody who was brought on untrained and then the clearly false information made despite repeated interrogation from the department,’ he said.
‘It was only uncovered late in the day after further investigation the Department demanding visual proof.’
Minister Hunt said the company breached its contract which would be terminated if any further breaches occurred.
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck told The Today Show on Thursday that healthcare workers need to be ‘very, very vigilant’.
‘For a mistake of this nature to occur is quite simply not acceptable,’ he said.
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck on Thursday confirmed that Healthcare Australia, a company contracted by the federal government to give vaccines in aged care homes, was put on notice
‘I’d be really upset if my mum or dad were in a situation where they hadn’t received the correct dose,’ he said.
The elderly pair suffered no adverse effects but are being monitored in hospital.
Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler put the bungle down to being a ‘grievous error’.
‘This is a very basic component of the training, recognising that these Pfizer vaccines come in multi-dose vials,’ he said.
‘You don’t inject the whole thing.’
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Wednesday said the doctor was registered and had taken the necessary online training provided by the Australian Board of Nursing.
But he later told Parliament that Healthcare Australia had informed him the doctor had not been trained.
‘The revised advice is that on further investigation Healthcare Australia has advised he had not completed the required training,’ he said.
‘I have asked the Department to take action against the company and the doctor for what is a clear breach on both fronts.
‘This is being investigated by Healthcare Australia and we’re expecting a report later today.’
Minister Hunt has apologised to the families of the elderly patients for the bungle. He also said the doctor has been stood down by Healthcare Australia.
It is not clear how the doctor got the dosing so wrong. One theory is that he gave two doses of the vaccine to each patient consecutively, instead of three weeks apart.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd, who was investigating the incident, said it is possible up to four times the recommended dose was given to each patient.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government was only informed about the overdose late on Tuesday night.
‘Although this happened yesterday morning, Queensland authorities were only advised late last night,’ she said.
‘Discovering these details now is simply not good enough.’
The premier said she would write to the prime minister to demand a National Cabinet meeting as soon as possible.
‘I want to know what training is provided to the people the Federal Government is employing to administer the vaccines in our aged care facilities,’ she said.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly also noted that other countries, including Germany and the UK, have experienced similar bungles in their coronavirus vaccine rollout at aged care facilities.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly is seen at a press conference on Wednesday, where the government addressed a coronavirus vaccine bungle in Queensland
An ambulance is seen at the entry to the Holy Spirit Nursing Home in Brisbane on Wednesday after news broke that two residents were given an incorrect dose of the Covid vaccine
‘The side effect profile was minimal particularly in the older people. That gives us hope,’ he said.
The Pfizer vial contains enough for around about six doses.
Lincoln Hopper, the CEO or St Vincent’s (Holy Spirit) Care Services, said the doctor who wrongly administered the vaccine would be reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
‘Yesterday was very distressing to us, to our residents and to their families,’ he said.
‘This incident is extremely concerning. It’s caused us to question whether some of the clinicians given the job of administering the vaccine have received the appropriate training.
‘Certainly, health authorities and contracted vaccination providers should be re-emphasising to their teams the need to exercise greater care so an error like this doesn’t happen again.’
What will next happen in each state
The Pfizer jab will be administered to 35,000 frontline workers in NSW over the next three weeks including those employed at quarantine hotels, people screening airport arrivals, health staff, cleaners, police and security.
All quarantine hotel workers in NSW – about 6500 people per week – will be included in the initial rollout of the jab.
Victoria’s first 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived on Sunday at Monash Hospital in Clayton.
The roll-out begins on Monday morning, with high-risk frontline health staff first in the queue.
Other recipients in line to receive the jab include hotel quarantine, airport and port workers, as well as aged care staff and residents.
The federal government is expected to allocate 59,000 Pfizer vaccine doses to Victoria over the first four weeks of the program.
The southern state will receive weekly deliveries of vaccines, with plans to inoculate 12,000 people in the first three weeks.
More than 1000 hotel and health workers will be jabbed this week
More than 290 hotel quarantine staff and medical professionals are expected to receive the Pfizer BioNTech jab.
3392 invitations sent to workers who qualify for Phase 1a
WA’s 2500 hotel quarantine workers, 2500 Perth Airport staff and 170 Fremantle Port employees have been prioritised to get the jab first, with at least 556 currently booked in to get it next week.