14 Apr 2021

Covid-19: Canterbury District Health Board races to use extra 1400 vaccine doses

4:07 pm on 14 April 2021

A Christchurch GP was surprised to hear that Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) staff were making personal Facebook posts to advise people there were spare Covid-19 vaccines up for grabs.

Temperature display on a freezer which will be used to store Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine vials.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine must be kept at a very low temperature and it expires after a few days out of the freezer. Photo: Supplied / Ministry of Health

The CDHB received an excess 1400 Covid-19 vaccine doses last week, and they need to be used by today before they expire.

New Zealand Medical Association's General Practitioner Council chair Vanessa Weenink, who is also a GP, said she learnt of the excess vaccines when she rang to book her own vaccination appointment, and was told she could get in earlier than expected.

"I was surprised to be told I could go down on Monday afternoon.

"I attended and found out it was a whole lot of spare vaccine and, subsequent to that, learnt that there had been Facebook announcements and various things about it.

"But I was very happy to have got my vaccine, and some of my colleagues have got their vaccines too."

She said she understood the CDHB had developed a list of GPs who were dealing with a lot of Covid-19 swabs and would take priority for vaccination if there were leftover doses, but she did not believe this plan was activated in response to the extra 1400 doses.

"It seemed a little bit ad hoc that the front-line vaccinators felt they needed to send out Facebook messages to get the word out, especially when the other contingency plans don't seem to be activated. That was a little bit unusual."

Dr Weenink said the roll out of the vaccination in Christchurch has been slowing down, so it was heartening to know they can ramp up the vaccinations when needed.

CDHB executive lead for Covid-19 response Ralph La Salle said clinics were set up yesterday for staff at the Christchurch and Burwood campuses to make use of the vaccines, and these would continue today.

La Salle said they would also be offering surplus vaccinations to household contacts of border and managed isolation and quarantine workers and frontline healthcare workers.

He said they believed they would avoid any wastage of the vaccine, and were looking into why they were sent the excess doses.

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