Health Minister David Ashford says the island has wasted very few Covid-19 vaccines, but 15 were thrown away in a single day as no one could be found to take them.
Mr Ashford was asked by Lawrie Hooper MHK what the island’s protocol is for surplus vaccine doses and how many have been thrown away.
In his response, the Minister said that there are ‘no surplus’ doses, but that some do become available when people don’t turn up for their appointments or when consent can’t be given for the jabs.
He added: ‘This can be a bigger issue with the Pfizer vaccine due to its limited shelf life, once thawed, of 120 hours. Part used vials of both vaccines have a shelf life of 6 hours from initial puncture, but surplus doses are minimised as much as possible by only starting vials if the recipients are on site.
‘Live clinic lists are monitored by the staff at the vaccination hubs and where cancellations are known in advance, either these staff members or the 111 team will try and fill the cancellations and if early enough in the day any DNA’s.
The potential of wastage is when insufficient people who are booked are willing or able to move their appointments forward. Up until very recently this has not been an issue as the ability to bring forwards frontline health and social care workers to a hub has ensured that extremely low levels of ‘wastage’ have occurred, in the region of 1 or 2 doses per week.’
Mr Ashford said that as the rollout among DHSC staff has pushed on it has been harder to fill the spaces when they become available, however this has been mitigated by vaccinating other vulnerable people such as patients transfers or immunocompromised people.
He added: ‘This has meant that the most wastage occurred at the end of week commencing February 15, when it was not possible to find 15 people who were willing to come to Chester Street for a vaccination and those doses were wasted.
‘The vaccination board have been reviewing the position carefully, week on week, and have developed a protocol to have up to 10 persons per vaccination day, who have a vaccination booked, who are willing, at short notice to have their appointment brought forwards, should cancellations or DNA’s occur. This process is under trial now.’
This angered several groups who say they should be given the vaccine because of their job. One such group includes people working in special needs units for the Department of Education who have been told they will not be vaccinated alongside DHSC care staff.
In the UK, surplus doses are, where possible given to people next in the list for vaccines or those who register to be offered short notice appointments. But if this isn’t possible, clinics have taken to offering them to volunteers at the hubs and to people who live nearby in efforts to cut down on wastage.