NSW Health is asking all general practitioners (GPs) to ensure at least one staff member has taken the NSW Health on-line vaccine care training module following a NSW Health state-wide audit of GP practices.
GPs play a vital role in protecting the community from serious infections by providing immunisations, and generally take this role very seriously. However the audit showed a small number of GP practices had not been monitoring vaccine storage according to national guidelines.
NSW Health is working with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Medical Association, the Medical Council of NSW, and the Primary Health Networks to assist in reminding GPs of their vaccine care obligations.
“While NSW Health does not have responsibility for GPs, we are working with GPs and assisting co-regulators to ensure patients are correctly and effectively vaccinated,” said NSW Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kerry Chant.
The new requirement will mean GPs must have staff trained in cold-chain storage via the NSW Health on-line learning module; and random audits will be done to check their practice complies.
A number of affected patients have been contacted and advised they will need to be re-vaccinated. Local public health units are assessing the situation at other identified practices to determine if other patients may also need to be contacted.
The Medical Council of NSW and the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission are investigating and responding to these incidents.
Dr Kean-Seng Lim, NSW President of the Australian Medical Association said vaccination is one of the key pillars of disease prevention and good cold chain control is a vital part of the effectiveness of immunisation.
“The AMA supports measures to improve cold chain control and it’s something we should be all be paying close attention to,” Dr Lim said.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners NSW/ACT Faculty Chair, Dr Charlotte Hespe reiterated the need to follow best practice.
“Vaccines need to be stored at an optimal temperature range to ensure patients are protected from illness such as the flu, measles, or meningococcal disease,” she said.
NSW Health has a range of resources available to support general practice care for vaccines, and the safe administration of vaccines. The free vaccine cold chain management on-line learning module is available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/cold-chain-management.aspx