Patients warned following vaccine bungle

Thousands of patients vaccinated by two Sydney GPs are being contacted after vaccines were found to have expired or not been stored properly

The Sydney Local Health District has put a call out for patients who received vaccinations at a Burwood general practice after it was found vaccines were improperly stored in the practice refrigerator – leaving some too hot or cold – while others were expired.

Patients vaccinated since 1 January 2010 by Drs Darrel and Brinda Weinman at 40 Lindsay Street, Burwood, NSW, have been recommended to get revaccinated as any vaccines given may not have been effective.

The investigation found that National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines such as MMR, pertussis, hepatitis B and influenza among others were affected.

Private vaccines were not affected and there is no evidence that travel vaccines were stored at the practice.

About 3000 patients of the Lindsay Street practice have already been contacted.

“However, due to inconsistent record keeping at the practice, it has been difficult to identify which patients have been vaccinated and to obtain contact details for all patients,” said Sydney Local Health District Clinical Director of Public Health, Dr Leena Gupta.

“While NSW Health does not have responsibility for GPs, we are assisting co-regulators the Medical Council of NSW and the NSW HealthCare Complaints Commission in investigating and responding to these incidents,” said Dr Gupta.

Patients will need to find a new GP for revaccination as the Burwood practice is now closed – Dr Brinda Weinman retired late last month and Dr Darrel Weinman passed away in October last year.

Dr Weinman has reportedly been cooperative in assisting with the investigation.

NSW Health called on the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Medical Council of NSW to assist in reminding GPs of their vaccine care obligations.

RACGP president Dr Harry Nespolon said the organisation “finds this isolated incident regretful and understands patients concerns and dismay”.

“As such, we will be running an article in our publications reminding our members of their obligations and the practical measures for storing vaccinations appropriately.

“Storage of vaccinations is a serious matter,” Dr Nespolon said, highlighting that RACGP standards clearly explain the need to keep vaccines within an optimal temperature range.

Any patients of the practice who have not yet received a letter from the Sydney Local Health District are encouraged to visit the website or ring 1800 959 939 for more information. 

Vaccines in Australia must be stored or managed in accordance with the National Vaccination Storage Guidelines.

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