A major Sydney hospital is contacting hundreds of mums who have given birth in its maternity unit in the past 18 months after finding a fault in a fridge used to store vaccines.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital says the effectiveness of vaccines may have been compromised by a problem with the thermostat in a fridge in its 8 East postnatal ward.
In a statement, it says there is “no risk to receiving potentially less effective vaccines. However, these vaccines may not provide adequate protection against some illnesses”.
The ABC reports the vaccines affected include those for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella. The fault also affected hepatitis B vaccines given to eight babies.
The hospital is contacting 570 women who have had babies at the hospital since August 2013 “as a precautionary measure”. The hospital says the faulty thermostat may have exposed vaccines to temperatures outside the “optimum storage range”, so they should be readministered.
The hospital has set up a free clinic at Croydon Community Health Centre to revaccinate patients, and says people who prefer to see their own GP will be reimbursed any costs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner has ordered an investigation into medication storage protocols in all the state’s hospitals. “I’m advised measures will be introduced at RPA to ensure this incident does not happen again,” she says.
In its statement, RPA apologised for any inconvenience or concern caused by the scare. Worried parents can contact the information hotline on 1800 300 243.