Two elderly people in a Queensland aged care home have been given “higher than the recommended dose” of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed.
- The two elderly aged care residents were given the incorrect dose by a doctor yesterday
- Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said an investigation is underway
- The doctor who administered the doses has been stood down from the vaccine program
An 88-year-old man and a 94-year-old woman were given the doses yesterday.
When asked how much was administered Mr Hunt said it had been reported that four times the recommended dose had been given but it was still under investigation.
“It hasn’t been confirmed, because it’s actually really hard to be able to tell what was in the needle, but it couldn’t have been more than [four times],” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt said both patients, from the Holy Spirit facility in Carseldine, also known as St Vincent’s Care Services, were being monitored and neither had shown any signs of an adverse reaction to the doses.
The doctor who administered the doses has been stood down from the vaccine program.
“I think it’s very important that we’re up front,” Mr Hunt said.
“The safeguards that were put in place immediately kicked into action and a nurse on the scene identified the fact that a higher than prescribed amount of the dose was given to two patients.
“Both patients are being monitored and both patients are showing no signs at all of an adverse reaction. But it is a reminder of the importance of the safeguards.”
Mr Hunt said there were “highly developed training modules” that were mandatory to complete by those administering the vaccine.
“In relation to the individual doctor, we’ll leave that to the investigation as to whether or not they either did not understand or did not complete it, but it was a serious breach in terms of following the protocol,” he said.
“Our advice is that both doses were administered consecutively and, as a consequence of that, the nurse stepped in immediately.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said they may need to review the training modules going forward, but in the early clinical trials of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, experiments were conducted with different doses, including four times higher than what was eventually prescribed.
“During those trials, the side effect data was not a higher problem,” he said.
“Because we wanted to get on with the giving of this vaccination quickly, we went for a single one-size-fits-all model and it is the same training.
“There may be a need for us to modify that going forward.
“This was a mistake, whether it was simple or not we leave that to the investigation.”
Doctor to be reported to medical regulator
St Vincent’s (Holy Spirit) Care Services CEO, Lincoln Hopper said the doctor who administered the incorrect dose would be reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for the error.
“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.
“Before vaccinations are allowed to continue at any of our sites, Healthcare Australia — or any other provider — will need to confirm the training and expertise of the clinicians they’ve engaged so an incident like this doesn’t happen again.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was “not good enough” and the federal government must explain how the incorrect doses happened.
Palaszczuk calling for National Cabinet to convene
She told state parliament Queensland authorities were only advised of the incident late last night.
“In fact, the Health Minister herself rang me late last night and we convened again this morning at 7:00am,” she said.
“Discovering these details now is simply not good enough.
She said she will write to the Prime Minister today asking him to convene a National Cabinet as soon as possible.
“I want to know what training is being provided to people the federal government is employing to administer the vaccine in our aged care facilities,” she said.
“I want to know about the communication strategies for the next phases of the rollout of the vaccine.
“Mr Speaker, people need and must have full confidence in this vaccine.”
Ms Palaszczuk also applauded the nurse who intervened during the incident.