The Associate Health Minister and health authorities have confirmed there was a mix up in five Covid-19 vaccine doses given in Auckland last month.
RNZ reported on Wednesday morning there is a chance five people who got their jabs at the vaccination centre in Highbrook on July 12 could have gotten a dose of saline solution.
Speaking on Breakfast, the Associate Health Minister for Māori health Peeni Henare confirmed the incident had happened.
He believed it was an “isolated case”, and said investigations were now underway to determine whether human error or a process issue was to blame.
“It’s under investigation, I understand they had [mixed it up],” he said.
“Our job now is to resolve this. I hope our officials are prioritising this. We need confidence in our process and delivery of the vaccine to make sure people come and get it.”
The national director for the Covid-19 vaccination and immunisation programme Jo Gibbs told 1 NEWS in a statement she was aware of the situation.
She said it was identified when “the end-of-day reconciliation of vaccine doses in stock didn’t match the doses administered”.
“These types of situations occur from time to time, and we have systems and processes to detect and manage them – which is what occurred in this instance.”
Gibbs said “no patient harm would have resulted”.
“At this stage we can’t rule out the possibility that five people may have received an incorrect vaccine dose.
“The situation that occurred relates to just five doses that were unaccounted for at the end of that day, during which 732 people were vaccinated.
“It could have been due to some vaccinators getting more than the regular number of doses out of some vials and forgetting to record this. An alternative that we can’t rule out is the possibility that some people didn’t receive the correct vaccine dose.”
Gibbs said authorities were still gathering the information they needed to fully understand what had happened.
“We will be communicating with people who may have been affected when that work is complete.”
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said it was only a "possibility" at this point, that people were given saline instead of a vaccine dose.
He said all vaccination sites were now checking their stocks of vaccines more frequently to make sure it matched up to the number administered. This is an increase from checks that were previously only done at the end of the day.
"There are labels now put on syringes once they have been drawn up ... in our large sites," Bloomfield said.
"Another thing that's been done is only one vial at a time is taken into the place for drawing up."
Bloomfield said authorities were awaiting further advice from its medical experts. This was because the Pfizer vaccine was only approved in New Zealand, at this point, as a two-dose course.
"It's not clear that we had some people ... possibly five, who hadn't received a dose. Most of those people [the 732 vaccinated that day] would have received a dose.
"So, we've been seeking advice from our Technical Advisory Group whether or not people are offered a further dose."