Government investigate vaccinations at private clinic

The Government has launched an investigation into how a private clinic was vaccinating against measles, mumps and rubella without Ministry of Health knowledge.

In a statement, the Government revealed that a clinic operated by two registered nurses and a midwife, formally employed by the National Health Services, were administering vaccinations.

The Government does not name the clinic.

Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, said the clinic in question has been closed because of low confidence that the vaccine was being stored properly and that the vaccinating nurses were certified to do so.

“Currently there is no formal agreement between private clinics and the Ministry on the operations and safety requirements needed for maintaining the quality of the vaccines,” he said.

The clinic had been surveyed by Ministry of Health and they were not satisfied it was up to scratch to vaccinate people.

It is also not clear how they procured the vaccines which must be pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation.

The Government, which procures the vaccine, did not issue the vaccines to the clinic. On closing it down, they confiscated and destroyed 6000 doses of the vaccine.

Leausa said it cannot be known whether the vaccines were still potent, and if they had been stored in the cold chain correctly. 

“There is no agreement regulation for public clinics to provide such a service,” Leausa said in a statement.

“However this may be considered by the government in the future provided that the service is free to ensure access to everyone regardless of whether they can afford it or not.”

He said should the clinic meet all the requirements and agree to provide the vaccine free of charge they may be included in the mass vaccination campaign after the investigation.

The Samoa Observer could not reach the clinic in question by the time of publication.

There is a second private clinic that has been providing vaccinations and was doing so under an agreement made with the National Health Services administration, now merged with the Ministry of Health.

The Government says this clinic is not under investigation but their agreement is being suspended while the Ministry and UNICEF evaluate them.

To date, no private clinic without authorisation from the Ministry may administer the measles vaccine.

The Ministry has authorised more than 30 fixed sites from where people can be vaccinated against measles, which is now compulsory under the State of Emergency Order made early last week. 

The following statement was issued  by the Government about its investigation:

The private clinic implicated and under investigation in the administration of measles vaccines without a formal agreement with the Ministry of Health. (MoH) was operated by two registered nurses and a mid-wife who are former employees with the previous National Health Services, (NHS).

The investigation will look into the circumstances surrounding the clinics services and operations without authorisation and the procurement of the vaccines amongst other issues.

Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri also clarified that a second private clinic which provided measles vaccination injections had done so based on an arrangement approved during the previous NHS Administration.

That clinic is not part of the investigation and is presently awaiting re-evaluation by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to restart administration of measles vaccination.

In the meantime Dr. Naseri reiterated that the order issued last week discontinuing the administration of measles vaccines to the public by any Private Clinic without proper authorisation from MoH is still in effect. 

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