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Hunt backtracks, says doctor who gave two elderly patients a vaccine overdose was not trained

A doctor who gave two elderly patients four times the correct dosage of COVID-19 vaccine yesterday had not been trained to administer the injection, Health Minister Greg Hunt now says.

Mr Hunt was forced to make an extraordinary correction in parliament this afternoon, after earlier declaring during question time that the doctor had been fully trained up to administer the vaccine.

Mr Hunt apologised for the mistake and said he had been going on earlier written advice passed on to Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd from Healthcare Australia – which is contracted by the Federal Government to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations. The earlier advice said the doctor had undergone training.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has been forced to make a correction in parliament.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has been forced to make a correction in parliament. (Nine)

“Healthcare Australia has now advised that the doctor had not completed the required training. This is being investigated by Healthcare Australia and we are expecting a report later today,” Mr Hunt said.

“I have asked the department to take action against the company and the doctor for what is a clear breach on both fronts.”

Mr Hunt said Healthcare Australia had told him all other doctors involved in the immunisation rollout had completed the training.

The doctor had also not been involved in the vaccine rollout at any other facilities, Mr Hunt said.

The two patients, an 88-year-old man and 94-year-old woman from the Holy Spirit Nursing Home in Carseldine in Brisbane, are being monitored in hospital but are so far showing “no signs of an adverse reaction”.

Mr Hunt said earlier the doctor had made an unacceptable error and had been stood down.

Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler slammed the government over the untrained doctor who administered the overdose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Already we’ve seen maladministration,” he said.

“Australians are entitled to expect every single worker contracted by the government to provide vaccines to be fully trained.

“The government simply has to do better than this.”

vaccine
Two elderly patients have been given four times the recommended dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Lydia Lynch)

Earlier today, both Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the CEO of the facility’s operator St Vincent’s Care Service, Lincoln Hopper, questioned whether the right training had been put in place for doctors administering the jabs.

Mr Hopper described the error as “extremely concerning” and laid the blame for the bungle on Healthcare Australia.

“Yesterday was very distressing to us, to our residents and to their families,” Mr Hopper said in a statement.

Mr Hopper later told reporters the vaccination program at the aged care home was continuing today.

“Residents have the option of taking up the vaccine or not and clearly at any point they may withdraw consent. I have not heard of any though,” he said.

The patients were given excessive amounts of the Pfizer vaccine.
The patients were given excessive amounts of the Pfizer vaccine. (Getty)

Ms Palaszczuk told parliament this morning state authorities only found out about the overdoses yesterday evening, despite the incident happening in the morning.

“Discovering these details now is simply not good enough. None of this is good enough and the Federal Government must explain itself,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said she planned to ask the prime minister to convene a cabinet meeting to discuss the overdoses as soon as possible.

“People need and must have full confidence in this vaccine.”

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said tests over overdoses were conducted during the trails of the Pfizer vaccine. (9News)

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said early clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had experimented with different dosages up to four times the prescribed amount. 

“During those trials, the side effect data was not a higher problem, so there’s that element,” Professor Kelly said. 

“Second of all, as has been mentioned by the minister, we are aware of several cases like this happening early in the phased rollout through residential aged care facilities in Germany and the UK.

“The side effect profile was minimal, particularly in older people, so that gives us hope.” 

The government has set an ambitious target of 125,000 people to be vaccinated by early April starting with frontline medical and hotel quarantine staff and the elderly.

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