A 34-year-old woman says she was given the incorrect covid19 vaccine when she returned to the Chaguaramas Heliport vaccination site for her second dose in August.
The first dose she was given was AstraZeneca, but when she went back, she was mistakenly given Sinopharm.
There are only two vaccine mixes which have been approved by the World Health Organization at this time. They are AstraZeneca as a first dose and either Pfizer or Moderna as a second dose.
On Wednesday, when Newsday asked about the incident during the ministry’s virtual news conference, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said it sounded like a serious issue, and asked for details of the patient so: "We can look into it, and we can treat with that patient in a confidential manner and resolve the issue.”
To date the woman has been unable to get advice from the ministry on what steps she should take and whether she should seek a second dose of AstraZeneca.
No similar cases of vaccine mix-ups have been reported.
In Wednesday's 4 pm update, the ministry said 572,597 doses of covid19 vaccines have been administered to date.
Speaking anonymously to Newsday on Monday, the patient said on June 24 she went to the Chaguaramas vaccination site, where she was given the AstraZeneca vaccine. She was given a follow-up date of August 7 to return for her second dose.
“When I got there, the set-up was the same,” she said. “The only difference is it was not the Coast Guard administering the vaccines.
“I went through the screening process (and) they asked about my symptoms. After the screening, I proceeded to the second station where the vaccine was administered.”
She said when she got to that station, she handed an official her vaccination card with the AstraZeneca vaccine first dose recorded inside.
“The person administering the vaccine gave (the card) to another nurse and gave me the injection.
"For some reason, I immediately knew something was wrong.”
She said when she asked which vaccine she had just been given, she was told it was Sinopharm. She said she panicked on hearing of the mistake.
“I overheard them say, ‘You gave her the wrong thing.’ Another person walked to the table, and they told her what happened.
"I heard the person who administered the vaccine asking the third person what she should write on the vaccination card. She wanted to know if to write 'AstraZeneca' on the card. Someone respond, ‘No, she would still be considered unvaccinated. We can’t do that.’”
She said after the staff discussed the matter among themselves, the person who had administered the vaccine came back and explained to her what had just happened.
“They were telling me what I already knew,” said the woman. She said the person who administered the vaccine went across the yard to the doctor on site.
The doctor explained again that she had been given the wrong vaccine but said it would be ok.
However, she said she was told the only issue was that she could not travel overseas, because she would be considered unvaccinated. Her vaccination card was not stamped.
The woman said at that point, she was very upset.
“They were given (my) card,” she said, and asked how a mistake like that could have been made with the information in front of the health officials.
She said the doctor told her she should return in two weeks’ time to receive the second dose of the vaccine of her choice.
“I was furious.”
She said she left and called her personal doctor for advice.
“He told me to give it a month, not two weeks, and to return for the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
The woman said she suffers from hypertension and her doctor advised her on which vaccine she should take.
“I am frustrated beyond measure," she said. "My blood pressure is through the roof. I have two foreign things in my body. I don’t know what the outcome will be if I take a third dose.
“I am not against the vaccine, but I just don’t know. I’m trying to be responsible.”
She said after she had the second vaccine, she felt very ill.
“It was worse than the first dose. I knew something was wrong. I had headaches, chills.”
She said she has been trying to get her second dose of AstraZeneca, but when she tries to make an appointment, she is told the regional health authorities do not have instructions to give a third dose of a vaccine.
“I am getting the runaround.”
She said she contacted Minister of Health Terence Deyalsingh's constituency office (St Joseph) last week Wednesday and was given his personal secretary's number.
"I reached out to the Minister of Health and had a conversation with his secretary there. She told me someone would contact me.
"On Tuesday, I followed up and asked the secretary for a response. She was surprised no one from the ministry contacted me yet. She said she will check on it.”
On Wednesday, when questioned by Newsday on the case during the ministry’s news conference, Deyalsingh said, “As we always advise, if you send the person’s name and contact number to us offline, we can certainly look into it."
Newsday forwarded the information to the ministry via e-mail. Manager of corporate communications at the ministry Candice Alcantara confirmed receipt.
Newsday also contacted the Northwest Regional Health Authority.
Corporate communications officer Anesa Alleyne said she was unaware of the incident and requested the patient’s information so the RHA could investigate.