31 Aug 2021

Covid-19: Couple struggling to find answers after vaccine mistake

6:50 am on 31 August 2021

A couple who may have got a saline or low dose injection instead of the Pfizer vaccine still don't know if they need a booster shot and say they've been getting the run around from health officials.

No caption

A health worker prepares a Pfizer vaccine dose (file photo). Photo: AFP

RNZ last week revealed the Ministry of Health could not rule out that five people may have been give a low or no dose on 12 July at the Highbrook Vaccination Clinic in Auckland.

After the story broke, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said all 732 people vaccinated that day would be contacted within 24 hours.

Frances Beniest and her partner Graham Grace both thought they'd got their second Pfizer vaccine on 12 July.

Beniest got an email about the possible mix-up within a day of the news breaking but, five days on, Grace had heard nothing.

"I was in the same booth with her, our cards have the same batch number and she's received it, I haven't," he said.

The couple also want to know what's going to happen next - and the email Beniest got from health officials hasn't been much help which recommended they contact an 0800 number.

"We've contacted that number and every other 0800 number that every person has fobbed us off and given us.

"It is just going round and round in circles," he said.

They rang Healthline, a Covid-19 helpline, the Counties Manukau DHB, Northern Regional Health and finally contacted the ministry.

Grace said he just wanted any response.

National's Chris Bishop said officials have got to do better.

"Clearly there is public concern and to go on a bit of a tiki tour through various Ministry of Health, DHB and Healthline call centres and to not get an answer is frankly unacceptable," he said.

Bishop said there should be plans in place to deal with mistakes, given New Zealand has had an opportunity to learn from the overseas vaccine roll-outs.

Since the revelations about the Highbrook Vaccination Centre the ministry has also released information about two other clinics where a small number of people may have got no or low doses.

All but one person has been contacted and rebooked for another vaccine shot.

RNZ approached the ministry last night for comment about how Beniest and Grace have been treated.

It confirmed it had the wrong email address for Grace but arranged for a staff member to contact the couple that evening.

Those affected by the Highbrook mix-up have been told they will be given a further update on the next steps by 10 September.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs