Residents in God’s Lake First Nation were administered COVID-19 vaccines that weren’t stored properly.
Last week, the leadership in the First Nation were notified that 26 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in error.
“I am disappointed to learn 26 people from God’s Lake received doses of a vaccine that was improperly stored,” said God’s Lake Chief Hubert Watt.
Watt noted that it takes time for people to feel comfortable receiving a vaccine.
“It is my hope this news does not increase hesitancy in people who are still thinking about getting vaccinated,” he said.
The vaccines were administered by nurses hired by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch at Indigenous Services Canada.
“Moving forward, I urge our federal partners to demonstrate a high level of care in their duties of providing comprehensive, reliable, and safe health care to First Nations.”
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) told Global News during the week of January 17th, 2022, Nurses at God’s Lake First Nation discovered a shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was incorrectly stored in the freezer at the nursing station.
“After consultation with the manufacturer, it was determined that the efficacy of doses stored in the freezer for more than 20 days could not be verified,” Nicolas Moquina spokesperson for ISC said.
The shipment received from the province was mislabeled by the distributor, which led to incorrect storage, Moquina told Global News. Vials have since been returned to the Manitoba provincial distributor.
They noted that no harmful side effects are expected to occur. Those impacted will be offered an additional dose eight weeks after they received the improperly stored vaccine.
Chief Watt noted that teens between the ages of 12-17 also received a third dose, before becoming eligible.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee says he’s concerned and disappointed that guidelines were not followed and teens were improperly vaccinated.
“I stand with the request from God’s Lake First Nation leadership to the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch that they move forward with a diligent approach of providing reliable and safe health care services for First Nations citizens,” Settee said in a press release.
Assembly of Manitoba Chief’s also voiced their concerns. Grand Chief Arlen Dumas calls the process a “failure”.
“First Nations need to have a direct say on these processes to ensure accuracy. I commend Chief and Council for moving quickly to ensure the safety of their citizens,” Dumas said in the press release.
ISC says they’ll continue to work with God’s Lake First Nation to address any concerns their Chief, Council and members may have with regards to the situation.
They say a comprehensive patient safety review is being conducted, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“ISC has conducted a country-wide verification process to confirm that this specific storage incident was an isolated one. We can confirm that no other ISC-operated nursing station has encountered any such inconsistencies.”
Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu says her office is monitoring the situation closely.
“It is deeply concerning to learn of vaccines administered in God’s Lake First Nation that may have been improperly labeled or stored that would have limited their effectiveness and cause concern to those who received them,” Minister Hajdu says.
“Indigenous Services Canada is thoroughly investigating the matter with the community, the province, and all partners involved in vaccine administration and supports are being made available to those were affected.”