29 March 2021

Leftover doses when vaccinating frontline health workers

In Canterbury we use a standby list of people within Managed Isolation and Quarantine or Port facilities who can be called in at short notice to make use of all available vaccine supply in scheduled vaccination clinics. This includes when people do not turn up to booked appointments which can result in unexpected additional doses.

In addition to this, we also have contingency plans in place to prevent the wastage of any vaccine supply which is soon to expire by prioritising our high-risk frontline health workforce in Canterbury (group two: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-getting-vaccine). This group is prioritised by risk of exposure to the virus and includes emergency and afterhours services, frontline DHB staff, and general practice teams.

Equity for our most vulnerable populations is foremost in our planning and our Māori and Pacific healthcare providers in Canterbury form a key part of this group.

There is a complex cold chain process for the use of the Pzifer vaccine:

•             Once defrosted, undiluted vaccine can be stored for up to 120 hours (5 days) at 2˚C to 8˚C (includes distribution time) from the time it is removed from freezer storage.

•             Once removed from fridge for use, two hours is allowed to bring the vaccine to room temperature before dilution.

•             Once the dilutant has been added, it must be kept between 2˚C and 30˚C until use within six hours.

•             The vaccine cannot be moved from its current location once this process has taken place.

•             After those six hours have lapsed it must be discarded.

On one occasion, on Sunday 7 March at the end of the day we had three vaccine doses left due to the fact three people didn’t attend their pre-booked vaccination appointment. Due to the remote location of the clinic and it being late on a Sunday afternoon, and the fact that the vaccine couldn’t be moved, the three doses were offered to a local company close to the vaccination clinic.

On two occasions the community-based clinic has also offered vaccinations to General Practice when they had leftover doses.

We believe it is preferable to make use of leftover doses rather than waste them.

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