Vaccinations abroad, a problem for the Ministry of Health

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The health ministry says it does not recognize vaccines a person has received abroad.

Vaccine against covid19.
Photo: 123RF

Vaccines administered abroad cannot be added to a person’s vaccination record, nor verified for authenticity.

RNZ understands that there could be more than 1,000 people in contact with the ministry to have their vaccinations recognized abroad here.

Health Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said an overseas immunization verification system was urgently being developed, ahead of the planned rollout of vaccine certificates next month.

Earlier this year, a woman and her partner received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Northland, after there had been a Covid-19 alert before Waitangi Day.

Weeks later, they received a second dose of the vaccine in the United States.

Eight months later, the vaccine has not been added to their vaccination record here in New Zealand.

“Even though it’s written on the little white card we were given in New Zealand, it has the type of Pfizer vaccine, it has the date it was given, the lot number, and whatever. be the other information there, everything is recorded on the same card, “said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“But as far as the New Zealand Ministry of Health is concerned, we have only had one vaccine.”

She said officials were sympathetic to their situation, but had no response yet.

“As stupid as it sounds, it seems to be an administration issue.

“It seems they don’t have the capacity to record it, although I find it hard to believe. They say they are unable to record vaccines given outside of Nova Scotia. Zealand. “

The health ministry offered few options to remedy the situation.

“It was suggested that if we wanted two doses recorded, we could have another vaccine.

“They are still chasing us for dose number two, even though we have had it and have told them many times. They said we can get another dose.”

She said she was concerned about how the vaccination issue would affect her chances of getting a vaccination certificate, which Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said will be available from next month.

And although she is set to receive a third injection of Pfizer vaccine – with some countries now distributing a third booster injection – she said it would still have implications on the trail.

“At first glance, in a few months, I might have another vaccine and I will have had three, which is equivalent to the first two and the booster.

“But what worries me is that if I travel overseas my record will not be correct because my records in New Zealand just show that I had two, when in reality I ‘ve had three. “

Health ministry officials she has dealt with have said it is a big problem, with perhaps thousands of people in a similar situation – having been vaccinated with doses that go unrecognized in New Zealand.

Bloomfield said it was a multi-faceted problem.

He said the ministry currently offers advice on vaccines – AstraZeneca, Janssen or Moderna for example – that it will recognize for future trips to the country.

But he’s also working on how to check and record vaccinations for people overseas.

“At the moment, if people have had one or both vaccines overseas, it is not easy to put them on the Covid vaccination registry,” Bloomfield said.

“They might have had their first here, the second, the same vaccine, Pfizer, in the United States or something like that.

“We are now developing a process where we can verify this and then enter it into the Covid vaccination registry so that they can be classified as fully vaccinated. “

Bloomfield said he hoped a system would be in place by the time the vaccine certificates roll out next month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there would be no negative implications for people if the ministry was not ready with a verification system by the time the certificates were introduced.

“I’m sure we can find a workaround,” Ardern said.

“We don’t intend to invalidate someone’s legitimate vaccine if they’ve received it overseas, it’s just a matter of making sure we have a solution.”

Bloomfield admits that checking vaccines will be easier in some countries than others, but there will be no discrimination against people who have received a vaccine in less developed countries.


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