NEARLY 300 children and adults are in line to be revaccinated after it was discovered that some vaccines at Lerwick Health Centre had been stored at an incorrect temperature.
NHS Shetland’s director of community health and social care Simon Bokor-Ingram said he was “very sorry” for the mistake.
There is no harm to patients from vaccines stored at the wrong temperature, but their long-term effectiveness may be reduced.
A total of 171 children and teenagers, as well as 91 adults, will be offered repeat vaccinations through boosters. They are being contacted by letter.
The issue was discovered on 19 February following a routine check of fridge temperatures, with records showing that since 1 August last year some vaccines were stored for short periods above the recommended maximum temperature.
Some of the affected vaccines include treatments for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, whooping cough, haemophilus influenzae B, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella and rotavirus infections.
Other vaccines affected include the shingles vaccine for older people and some travel vaccines, while the flu jab was not affected.
NHS Shetland intends to complete most of the revaccinations within the next month, with the first dedicated clinic taking place on Saturday (24 March).
“I am very sorry that this situation has arisen, and particularly for affected patients and parents,” Bokor-Ingram said.
"Whilst we have systems in place to prevent such events it is clear that on this occasion these did not work as intended.
“We are thoroughly investigating this so that we can minimise the risk of this happening again.
“Our priority is to move quickly to offer revaccination to those affected, and I am grateful to our staff who have reacted with speed to this situation, with our first revaccination clinic happening on Saturday 24 March”.
Susan Webb, director of public health for NHS Shetland and NHS Grampian, added: “Our concern is that the effectiveness of the vaccines may have been compromised so they may not provide the necessary long term protection that was intended.
“The expert advice we have received is that boosters should be offered as a precautionary measure, and we can reassure patients and parents that there is no significant risk from additional doses of vaccine.
“The welfare of patients remains our highest priority, and we are satisfied that re-vaccination is the best way to ensure long term protection against infection.
“We would urge patients and parents to take up the appointments offered by the practice. We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause but would remind patients that immunisation remains the best way to protect against infection.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said: "It's essential that patient welfare remains the number one priority. Fortunately, on this occasion, no harm appears to have come to those involved. However, it is imperative that the investigation under way is concluded swiftly and new measures to prevent a similar incident are implemented.
“I will raise this with NHS Shetland given how important public confidence is in our health service.”
- Lerwick Health Centre has created a dedicated telephone number for anyone who wishes to seek further advice. The number is (01595) 743324, and it will be available during health centre opening times.