More than 120 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine have reportedly been thrown out after a possible storage error at a nursing home in Melbourne.
The ABC is reporting that the doses were rendered unusable because of fears they had been kept at the wrong temperature.
They were delivered to the St Vincent’s aged care home in Werribee, in Melbourne’s outer west, on Wednesday and administered by Aspen Medical.
According to the ABC, the company has advised the federal government that 25 vials were left over and stored in a fridge. But the company could not confirm the precise temperature at which the vials were stored and so decided to dispose of them.
Elsewhere, the Northern Territory reported supply chain “teething problems” in the first week of vaccinations.
NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles told ABC Radio Darwin on Friday that an expected shipment of COVID-19 vaccines did not arrive on Thursday, so the territory ran out of doses earlier than expected.
“We’ve raised that with the Commonwealth government about that supply issue,” she said.
Ms Fyles said there had been several “teething problems” across the country in the past week.
“The officials are looking into it but we are expecting 400 more doses today,” she said.
“We will continue vaccinations this evening and tomorrow.”
The two hitches emerged as Prime Minister Scott Morrison reassured Australians that safety came first in the national COVID vaccine rollout.
He implored families of aged-care residents not to be anxious amid reports of vaccines being delayed and a botch earlier in the week in which two elderly people were given incorrect doses.
Mr Morrison said logistical issues in the early phase of the rollout would be addressed quickly.
“I’m absolutely confident that as we go from day to day, the lessons of each day will only make the system better,” he said in Sydney.
“At all times, safety is the paramount issue.”
Vaccinations are complete at about 90 aged care homes, with another 20 expected to be done on Friday.
Some 23,000 Australians have been vaccinated so far, including frontline healthcare workers and hotel quarantine staff.
But the rollout has not occurred as quickly as the federal government promised.
Healthcare Australia – which has the federal government contract for the vaccination workforce in NSW and Queensland – has scaled back and slowed down its processes.
The company is in hot water with the government after two nursing home residents in Brisbane were given too much of the vaccine by a doctor who had not completed mandatory jab training.
The 88-year-old and 94-year-old patients have shown no signs of adverse reactions. Planned heart surgery for one of the patients has been delayed as a precaution.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said vaccinations at other nursing homes were pushed back as a result.
“Unfortunately, they notified people by email, 10.45 at night,” he told 2GB radio.
Healthcare Australia is on notice its contract could be torn up if there are any more major problems.
Sonic Healthcare is helping with the residential aged care vaccine rollout in NSW and Queensland.
Aspen Medical has the federal contract for the vaccination workforce in all other states and territories.
Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said an investigation is underway into what happened with the 25 vials in Victoria.
“It’s something that the team is looking at, whether there has been what we call a breach of cold chain,” Professor Skerritt told ABC radio.
Mr Morrison flagged Pfizer was looking at changes to the vaccine’s storage temperature, which is being considered by the TGA.
Meanwhile, Victoria will ease mask rules and social gathering restrictions on Friday night, despite confirming two new local cases of coronavirus.
State health authorities said the two cases were close contacts of pre-existing patients and had been in quarantine during their infectious period.
South Australia has lifted the last of its travel restrictions, clearing the way for people from Melbourne to enter the state from Friday with quarantine or testing.
Queensland will also reopen to Melbourne from 1am on Saturday.