More than 100 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been thrown out after they were kept at the wrong temperature for too long, one of the government contractors responsible for the rollout has confirmed.
Contractor Aspen Medical said it conducted vaccinations at St Vincent's Care Services in Werribee in Melbourne's outer suburbs on Wednesday, at the end of which there were 25 vials unused and stored on site in a refrigerator.
The Pfizer vaccine currently being used as part of the rollout must be stored at temperatures below minus 70 degrees but, once thawed, can be kept in a normal refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees celcius for up to five days.
"While refrigeration was maintained, it was not possible to verify that temperature was maintained throughout. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, a medical decision was made not to use the remaining vials," a Department of Health spokesperson said.
Each vial of the Pfizer vaccine holds at least five and up to six doses of the vaccine, meaning 25 wasted vials could be 125 vaccine doses. The company stressed it represented just 0.15 per cent of the first week's doses, and was a loss rate well below what was expected.
"We particularly thank the Aspen Healthcare worker who responded resourcefully and took action to ensure both use of the vaccines and protection of the integrity of the unused vials," the statement said.
It's the second bungle to affect the federal government's aged care rollout in the first week, after two elderly people were given four times the correct doses by a doctor who hadn't done the vaccine training.
In the ACT 778 vaccines have been given as part of the territory's rollout to health and hotel quarantine workers, and hundreds more as part of the federal government's aged care rollout. So far nine aged care centres and three disability care providers have received vaccines through the program ran by Aspen Medical.
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