The Hong Kong Department of Health is investigating an incident in which 14 members of the public were given expired COVID-19 vaccines at a medical center in Kowloon Bay.
The Hong Kong Department of Health has suspended a clinic’s vaccination program after it administered out-of-date COVID-19 vaccines to 21 people, according to the department on Friday. Patients were given expired BioNTech COVID-19 jabs for the second time in three days.The clinic notified the department that it had administered the expired vaccines to 21 patients between January 16 and 28 and from March 7 to 28. Among them, 18 were bivalent vaccines, and three were for the original strain of the coronavirus.
Investigation Conducted Following Administration of Expired Vaccines
The Department of Health has launched an investigation into the clinic after it was notified of the expired vaccines. The vaccines were between one and 22 days past the suggested use-by date. The department said it was highly concerned about the incident. It requested the medical service provider to submit a report upon receiving the notification on Thursday.
The department inspected the medical center on Friday. Immediately, it suspended the clinic’s vaccination service after none of the affected people reported any discomfort. The department will continue to follow up and determine if the medical center has implemented relevant improvement measures to resume their vaccination services.
Expert Consultation on Safety and Efficacy of Vaccines
The department has consulted a local expert and asked Fosun Pharma about the safety, efficacy, and quality of the vaccine in both incidents. The affected people did not require re-vaccination. Fosun Pharma, the vaccine maker, suggested keeping the bivalent and ancestral strain vaccines at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and using them within 70 days and 31 days after thawing, respectively.
Expired Vaccine Administration Not Harmful, Says Lawmaker
Hong Kong lawmaker and ophthalmologist, Dr. Dennis Lam Shun-chiu, suggests that the expired vaccine may not be harmful as long as they were stored under the required condition. However, he suggested that affected individuals should have blood tests to determine whether they have enough antibodies to avoid re-vaccination. Lam added that incidents like these should be taken seriously as there are clear instructions for administering vaccines. Additionally, he said the government should handle them seriously if they involve human error.
Quality HealthCare Incident Prompts Government Action
Earlier this week, the Hong Kong Department of Health launched an investigation into Quality HealthCare’s medical center after 14 members of the public were given expired COVID-19 vaccines. The medical center administered Comirnaty bivalent vaccines to 14 members of the public from March 21 to 28. They had kept the vaccines one day to eight days after the suggested expiry date.
The department requested the medical center to contact the affected persons to explain the situation and follow up on their health condition. Furthermore, authorities urged the medical center to improve its vaccine management procedures and internal communications. The department also requested the medical center to manage any discomfort reported immediately and make notification to the department. The department has yet to receive any discomfort reports of the affected persons.
Hong Kong’s Department of Health is taking prompt action following the administration of expired COVID-19 vaccines at two separate medical centers. Firstly, the department has suspended the vaccination program and launched investigations into both incidents. Secondly, the authorities advised the affected individuals to undergo blood tests to determine whether they require re-vaccination. Finally, the government has urged all medical centers to follow established guidelines to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.