COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Townsville nursing home in ‘error’, Health Department admits
A Townsville nursing home has been ordered to return its supply of the coronavirus vaccine after it was delivered to the facility by mistake.
- Residents as old as 105 in a Townsville home are yet to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine
- Nursing home staff say they are frustrated by ongoing delays
- Less than a third of aged care residents around the country have received their first jab
Residents at the Loreto Nursing Home in Pimlico were scheduled to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 29, but on March 25 staff were told their in-house clinic wouldn’t being going ahead because it could not be guaranteed the vaccine would arrive in time.
But the home’s director of nursing, Michelle Yanner, said a supply of the vaccine was delivered by couriers on March 29 as initially planned.
“I asked the driver to wait while I phoned the department,” Ms Yanner said.
Ms Yanner was unable to get through to the Department of Health, the Vaccine Operations Centre, or the provider via phone and the delivery driver was eventually instructed by his management to take the vaccines and leave the facility.
In a statement, the Department of Health confirmed the vaccines were delivered to the aged care facility early due to an “error” in the ordering system.
“Due to the complex cold chain logistics of this vaccine, they have been returned and a vaccine delivery will occur on their scheduled vaccine date,” it said.
The department said vaccinations were only able to be administered by in-reach workers, rather than the nurses at the aged care facility.
The federal government is responsible for coordinating the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
But despite aged care residents and staff being named as recipients in phase 1A, none of the residents at the Loreto Nursing Home have been vaccinated.
“We’ve got one resident who is 105 years old and another who is turning 101 this week,” Ms Yanner said.
“It’s pretty frustrating when there are vaccines here, an outbreak in Brisbane and all we want to do is protect the residents, and protect our staff too.
“We’re in a position where we’ve got a resident who is 95 — her daughter, who is maybe 70, has received the vaccine.
North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) chief executive Robin Whyte said while the federal government was responsible for the scheduling, allocation, and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine, the local PHN had been providing support for the rollout.
“This is an ongoing process and Northern Queensland PHN will continue to offer local context information to support the government throughout the pandemic response and vaccine rollout, including support for residential aged care facilities in our region,” Ms Whyte said.
“The NQPHN continues to advocate for and support residential aged care facilities in Northern Queensland.”
There are more than 2,800 aged care facilities across the country.
According to government figures, residents at only 925 of those sites have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Loretto nursing home has been told by the federal health department their clinic is now scheduled for April 12.