COVID-19 vaccinator feels “pressured by Ministry of Health to meet targets”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 28, 2021 |

A COVID-19 vaccinator working at Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch says mistakes will continue happening until the Ministry of Health stops pressuring health workers to meet certain targets.

It follows confirmation from the Ministry today that an error at a vaccination centre in “the Canterbury DHB area” earlier this month meant that 13 people may have received a lower dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than intended.

In a statement, The Ministry said “no patient harm would have resulted from this occurrence, but we acknowledge this would be concerning for the people involved.”

“Twelve of the group have been contacted and are booked in for another dose of the vaccine. A range of methods is being used to contact the remaining person. They are also booked in to receive their second dose.”

“The provider will also be implementing improvements and additional training for staff.”

Christchurch Health worker “It certainly doesn’t feel ethical”

A Christchurch health worker, who didn’t want to be named, said this incident was only a matter of time.

 “There’s a lot of pressure coming from the Ministry of Health in daily messaging which is sent to administration staff and then passed on to vaccinators.”

 “I actually feel really unsafe, and there are vaccinators who have left because they’re so stressed.”

 She said there’s an expectation from the Ministry that patients should be vaccinated every six minutes. 

 “When you’re working with elderly or disabled patients, it’s not that simple. There needs to be informed consent because there’s a lot of anxiety around people getting the vaccine.”

 “It’s not a competition and it’s not a race. There shouldn’t be any pressure to speed things up if you want to do things safely.”

 She said “we were told we’re only vaccinators, we’re not a GP practice, you’ve got to get them in and get them out,”

 “It certainly doesn’t feel ethical as a nurse, and I’m sorry but I’m still going to give people the time.”

Canterbury District Health Board Responds

Dr Helen Skinner, Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 response at the Canterbury DHB said the DHB had received a huge amount of positive feedback from members of the community recognising the great work they’re doing and how they are running clinics throughout our region.

 “Alert Level 4 settings put pressure on all of our COVID-19 vaccination staff, both DHB and primary care. Because of Alert Level 4 physical distancing restrictions, we can’t vaccinate as many people as usual but our people are working really hard, coming up with new solutions to keep up with demand.”

 She said “while the Ministry of Health provides modelling to all DHBs on their capacity, there is no mandate for a six-minute per person throughput.”

 Future appointments at The Princess Margaret Hospital have been temporarily set aside for our essential workers.

A New Zealand Nurses Organisation spokesman said they hadn’t received any complaints from health workers at vaccination centres.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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