“The administration of an expired vaccine occurred following a misinterpretation of the Ministry of Health’s extended expiry date on certain pediatric vaccines on March 9, which extended Pfizer Pediatric expiry dates by six to nine months. The extension was for frozen stock and not refrigerated stock, which remained at 10 weeks,” the DHB said in a statement.
All affected whānau were offered a free appointment with their GP or medical provider to get further advice and develop an individualized plan for the next steps for their child.
Immunization Advisory Center medical adviser Peter McIntyre said the doses were considered still very effective because they expired between one and 11 days.
“With the adult vaccine, there was a bit more work on that and it was decided that up to two weeks [after the expiry date] is OK. It’s just that the pediatric vaccine has a slightly different preservative and there’s no exact data on that,” he said.
“I think there is a very, very strong chance that there will still be a good immune response and that they will still be protected even if it could be a little weaker.
McIntyre thought this was good news for parents and it was now up to families to decide whether they thought their child needed an extra dose or not.
Each child’s situation was different, although an extra dose would most likely benefit those with an underlying health condition, he said.
“If I had a child who was at a particularly high risk of having problems with Covid, say he had serious heart or lung problems, then I would probably err on the side of caution saying it would be better to have the extra dose just in case.”
Another factor for whānau to consider is the increased risk of side effects from an extra dose, he said.
“If you give an extra dose, there will be an increased risk of side effects.”
“Side effects aren’t a big deal, but overall I’d say the risk of more serious side effects is more of an issue for an otherwise healthy child, than the small chance the vaccine will work. not as good as us “I like it,” he added.
Taranaki DHB also said he had received clinical advice on the matter and the 36 children who received a dose within 48 hours of its expiration do not need further vaccination.