A review prior to the vaccination roll out in Australia was conducted to remove the risk of supply chain shortages and bottlenecks causing a delay in the administration of the Pfizer vaccines. This includes packaging, storage temperature solutions, transportation, PPE, glass vials and syringes.
The vials the vaccine is manufactured into holds 6 doses, this is achieved by using a low dead space syringe to ensure no vaccination is wasted in the “dead zone” of ordinary syringes. Low dead space syringes are designed to waste less fluid by ensuring the shape of the plunger beneath the metal needle fits into the neck of the syringe, leaving less fluid behind when the vaccine is administered.
However, the delivery date of these low dead space syringes has been postponed due to a global supply chain shortage, leaving Australian health care workers to administer the vaccines using regular syringes, which only guarantees 5 doses per vial.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said “NSW has been quietly working on getting the maximum, but we’ve been very cautious – they’ve been cautious in their expectations.”
The low dead spaces syringes are due to arrive “in coming weeks”, therefore, in order to not delay the vaccination roll out plan, the NSW Government is budgeting to lose up to a sixth of its supply in distribution.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant assured, “these [standard] syringes are absolutely fine and many providers in the world are getting six doses most of the time.”
This unforeseen supply chain disruption is frustrating for NSW health care advisors and workers, as the additional dose from each vial could significantly accelerate the number of people being vaccinated each day.