GP rules for vaccine storage have been strengthened following the Sydney vaccine bungle and a state-wide audit
NSW Health is imposing new rules on all general practitioners after a state-wide audit showed a small number of GP practices had not been monitoring vaccine storage according to national guidelines.
Several affected patients have been contacted and advised they will need to be revaccinated.
Local public health units are also assessing the situation at other identified practices to determine if further patients may need to be contacted.
GPs must now have at least one staff member trained in cold-chain storage via the NSW Health online learning module, under new requirements.
Random audits will also be conducted to check that practices are compliant.
NSW Health is working with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Medical Association, the Medical Council of NSW and the Primary Health Networks in reminding GPs of their vaccine care obligations.
“While NSW Health does not have responsibility for GPs, we are working with GPs and assisting co-regulators to ensure patients are correctly and effectively vaccinated,” said NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant.
The audit was conducted after it was discovered last month that thousands of patients vaccinated by two Sydney GPs had to be contacted after vaccines were found to have expired or not been stored properly.
About 3000 patients of the practice had to be contacted and they were recommended to get revaccinated.
Dr Kean-Seng Lim, NSW President of the Australian Medical Association, said vaccination is one of the key pillars of disease prevention and good cold chain control is a vital part of the effectiveness of immunisation.
“The AMA supports measures to improve cold chain control and it’s something we should be all be paying close attention to,” Dr Lim said.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners NSW/ACT Faculty Chair, Dr Charlotte Hespe reiterated the need to follow best practice.
“Vaccines need to be stored at an optimal temperature range to ensure patients are protected from illness such as the flu, measles, or meningococcal disease,” she said.