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Richmond Heritage Medical Centre bungle leaves 1600 patients potentially exposed to serious disease

Jul 28, 2023

At least 1600 local patients, mostly children, were left potentially exposed to serious diseases including COVID-19 after the Richmond Heritage Medical Centre failed to store vaccines at the correct temperature prompting the government to run an urgent revaccination program.

The incident has enraged local parents who have taken to social media to vent their anger after receiving a letter from local health officials to encourage them to get their children would need to be revaccinated.

“I am absolutely gutted about this and so upset for my kids. Not only for the fact that they have to go through so many needles again ( they need around 8 vaccines readministered) but because they have been potentially exposed to so many illnesses these last few years with no protection,” one local parent said.

The Heritage Medical Centre Richmond failed to store vaccines at the correct temperature.

The vaccines for diseases including polio, measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough were stored at temperatures too low from April 17, 2019 until January 30, 2023. The COVID-19 vaccines were also affected during this period.

The NSW Health will now run special vaccination clinics next week to ensure children receive the vaccinations they require following the breach at the Richmond heritage Medical Centre.

“NSW Health has been made aware of a vaccine cold chain breach affecting around 1,600 patients who attended a GP practice in the Hawkesbury area. The breach was due to the practice being unable to provide evidence that vaccines were consistently stored at the correct temperature,” a NSW Health spokesperson said.

“The Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Public Health Unit (NBMLHD PHU) has been working with the GP practice to identify all patients affected. Almost 1,600 letters have been sent to patients encouraging them to seek advice and revaccination with a GP of their choice.

“Patients attending the Heritage Medical Clinic in Richmond have been notified that vaccinations they received between 17 April 2019 and 30 January 2023 and 9 May and 19 May 2023 may be less effective due to incorrect storage. These patients may need to be revaccinated for any vaccine received during this time, including for COVID-19. Children five years of age and under have been provided with individualised catch-up schedules,” the spokesperson said.

NSW Health said it was investigating the incident, including seeking advice from experts in Immunisation. Vaccines covered by the National Immunisation Program will be available for revaccination at no cost, however, some general practitioners may charge a consultation fee.

“In response to this breach, NSW Health has written to immunisation service providers across NSW to remind them of their responsibility to store vaccines properly, and to properly monitor and record vaccine storage data,” the spokesperson said.

To ensure compliance, NSW Health said it will continue to conduct random vaccine storage audits of medical practices and pharmacies who provide vaccination services.

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