Provided by Debbie Skinner, director Alexandra Medical Centre
ALEXANDRA Medical Centre (AMC) has notified all affected people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in December and January, after concerns that the vaccine some patients received may have had reduced effectiveness.
AMC GP Dr Peyman Mohammadi said that there is no health risk to patients from receiving the affected vaccine, but that most patients would require an additional vaccine dose to ensure they are as protected as possible against COVID-19.
The people who are affected are receiving a letter from the practice advising them of what they should do. This could be to book in for a repeat vaccine dose at AMC, use the options of revaccination through Jabba the Bus, or the Mansfield vaccine hub, or speak to one of the clinic team members. This process has already commenced.
“The vaccines were still within their manufacturing expiry date and kept in an appropriate vaccine fridge, but they had been thawed for longer than is recommended by health authorities,” Dr Peyman said.
“We are not aware of any of these patients contracting COVID-19, as most patients will have some level of COVID-19 protection.”
Vaccination appointments are available at AMC, at Mansfield District Hospital vaccination sub-hub, or by visiting Goulburn Valley Health’s mobile vaccine clinic, Jabba the Bus (see dates below).
Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccines must be thawed to a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius before they can be administered. Once the vaccines have been thawed to this temperature, they should be used within 30 days.
The vaccines used at AMC exceeded the number of days the Comirnaty vaccine can be stored at this temperature and retain its expected strength. As soon as the practice was aware of the discrepancy, it sought guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC).
“The VOC expert panel has advised us that the vaccines would have been effective for some patients but may not have retained full strength for others, based on the dates of vaccination.
“In the interests of open disclosure, we have chosen to notify all patients vaccinated during that time period, including those who do not need to be revaccinated,” Dr Peyman said.
Practice Director and Nurse Consultant, Debbie Skinner said the practice team is grateful for the support that their community had received from the Commonwealth Department of Health, Safer Care Victoria, Murray PHN and, in particular Goulburn Valley Health, for providing additional vaccine support through Mansfield District Hospital, and visits from Jabba the Bus.
“All of us at AMC are deeply sorry for this error and any concern or inconvenience the revaccination may cause,” Debbie said.
“We can assure everyone of our commitment to continue supporting the primary health needs of our communities, safely and effectively. We have learned from this issue, which will strengthen our vaccine processes to prevent anything similar happening in future.”
“We are grateful for the support of our patients, and the strength of our community.
Alexandra Medical Centre is a small rural general practice. We request that you recognise that our staff are prioritising support for our patients and community in receiving repeat vaccinations.
Vaccination times and details
A repeat vaccination is available at: Alexandra Medical Centre, Jabba the Bus, Goulburn Valley Health and Mansfield Hospital. Please see vaccination contacts below.
Patients who attend Jabba the Bus or Anderson Hall at Mansfield should take their letter with them so that the vaccination team can address any specific questions.
Those who would like to have a discussion about revaccination before having a replacement dose, are encouraged to call AMC on 5772 1444 or email email@example.com to book an appointment with one of the practice team or book into a vaccination clinic.
Alexandra will have Jabba vaccination bus pop-ups. For future dates, times and places, please go to the website for more information, gvhealth.org.au/covid-19/vaxbus/
Mansfield vaccinations are at Anderson Hall, 10 Bank Place, Mansfield. For future dates, places and opening hours, visit the Mansfield District Hospital website, mdh.org.au