COVID-19

Excess Covid vaccines given as booster shots

His controversial practice comes before Australian regulators ruled on whether boosters are needed — and amid claims from his profession’s governing body, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), that it doesn’t “pass the pub test”.But the Melbourne GP is not alone, with many other doctors in other states also giving excess vaccines as booster jabs to their patients.Dr Haikerwal is a former national president of the AMA and says he “squirms at having to throw jabs down the sink”.Asked what he does with them, he said “yes” he is giving them out as booster doses to the elderly and frontline workers, including doctors, ambulance workers, quarantine workers and others.Pfizer vaccines sent to GP clinics had a shelf life of just 30 days and come in multi-dose vials which have to be disposed of if all the doses are not used, he said.With newer, more accurate needles it is possible to obtain seven doses off the Pfizer vaccine from the “six dose” vials, which also creates excess vaccines, he said. “I think that it’s unethical to throw away vaccines,” he said“Your specific question is has this (booster doses) been done? The answer is yes,” Dr Haikerwal said.The vaccine product information allows doctors to give booster doses and it’s been licensed for doing that in other jurisdictions, he said.After initially not having enough vaccines Australia is now drowning in excess doses.The federal Department of Health said in mid October, 21 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine had been produced in Australia but only 12.4 million had been put into the arms of Australians and 3.5 million had been donated to other countries.GPs and pharmacists are also returning close to expiry unused vials of Moderna and Pfizer jabs as the vaccine rollout reaches its peak.To date booster doses have only been sanctioned for immune compromised people as evidence shows they are not properly protected by two doses of the vaccine.In the US, Israel and the UK regulators have sanctioned booster doses as evidence emerges vaccine effectiveness of Pfizer begins to wane six months after the second dose particularly in the elderly.The government’s vaccine advisory body the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is expected to rule on who should get booster doses and when this week.AMA vice president Dr Chris Moy said it was understandable that doctors on the frontline in states where there were Covid outbreaks were seeking the extra protection.However, he said if doctors and nurses were giving booster vaccines to themselves it might undermine support for the vaccine program.“I understand the fear and urgency of the workers, given they are at the front line, and facing the prospect of being exposed to people with Covid and high risk of catching Covid and the concerns about, you know, the evidence for waning immunity,” Dr Moy said.“On the other hand it potentially sends the wrong message to the community in terms of actually telling the community that they’re not protected from having only had two shots.” Secondly, it was unethical for doctors and nurses to use their access to the health system for personal advantage, he said.“The pub test issue for Joe Blow in the public is how come they can I get it and we can’t,” he said.Dr Haikerwal said he was administering the jabs to more than just health workers, including security workers, hotel quarantine workers and those who were front facing in the airports.

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