An audit of GP practices in NSW has found that 33 out of the 44 potentially high-risk clinics examined did not meet vaccine storage standards
“NSW Health undertook an audit of 44 practices identified as potentially being at high risk of poor cold chain management,” a NSW Health spokesperson said.
This investigation took place after it was found that a practice run by two GPs in the Sydney suburb of Burwood had been improperly storing vaccines in its refrigerator, and the results of the audit have now been revealed.
The discovery, in June 2019, saw the Sydney Local Health District put a call out for thousands of patients who had been vaccinated at the practice of Drs Darrel and Brinda Weinman since 1 January 2010 to consider being revaccinated.
The vaccines they had been given might not have been effective, the organisation warned.
National Immunisation Program vaccines including the MMR, pertussis, hepatitis B and flu vaccines had been affected, with some being stored in a way which meant they had been kept too hot, or too cold.
Other vaccines were found to have been expired and the practice’s record-keeping to have been inconsistent.
As a result of NSW Health’s investigation of the 44 potentially high-risk practices, only one GP practice was required to recall patients, in July last year.
This practice, which was not accredited, was found to have administered potentially compromised vaccines to 816 patients.
NSW Health took measures to identify any other patients that may have been affected. Patients were followed up by the GP with assistance from the local Public Health Unit.
However, a total of 33 of the 44 practices investigated in the audit were found not to be meeting vaccine storage standards.
Of these, 20 are now compliant and the revaccination of patients was not required.
Eight of these practices have closed, including the non-accredited practice which administered the potentially compromised vaccines.
Another five are no longer providing immunisation services, and revaccination of patients was not required.
“The NSW Government is investing $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines,” the spokesperson said.