New Omicron-fighting Covid vaccine supplied with 'flimsy needles'

Vaccinators said the needles bend when they try to pierce vials.

New Omicron-fighting Covid vaccine supplied with ‘flimsy needles’ across Scotland to get replacement syringes hxyume via iStock

Vaccination centres across Scotland are to receive replacement syringes after warnings needles supplied with a new Omicron targeting Covid vaccine were unfit for purpose.

NHS staff complained about the dose administering devices that came with the Moderna Spikevax Bivalent jab that is the first that has been approved to target two strains of the virus.

Vaccinators said the needles bend when they try to pierce vials of the vaccine.

It comes as Scottish Covid rates increase for second week in a row.

National Services Scotland, the body that provides supplies and advice to the NHS across the country, said alternative products would be sought to avoid any disruption to the vaccination programme that has already begun its autumn rollout.

Following complaints, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which has procured the Moderna jab across the four-nations, said it would supply a different needle and syringe as a “precautionary measure”.

“At this time we are not issuing a product recall, but this decision will allow us time to fully investigate the issues raised,” said Gareth Thomas, deputy director of vaccines and countermeasures at UKHSA.

National Services Scotland’s director of national procurement said that the new needles would be sent out across Scotland while the feedback received is investigated.

Gordon Beattie said: “We can confirm that UKHSA have communicated to us today that as a precautionary measure, they are arranging for alternative combined needles and syringes to be supplied in Scotland whilst they investigate the feedback received about the combined needles and syringes that were recently brought into use.”

The alternative product is “virtually identical” to the one successfully used as part of the Covid programme with the Pfizer vaccine, UKHSA said.

“We are aware that some NHSE sites are experiencing some problems with the use of the new needle and syringe being supplied for administrating the Moderna bivalent vaccine,” the UKHSA’s Mr Thomas said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised Moderna’s bivalent vaccine, which targets both the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant, on August 15.

Known as mRNA-1273.214, the dose is an updated version of the Moderna vaccine which is already in use for first, second and booster doses.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus Infection Survey found around one in 45 people in Scotland had the virus in the week to September 5, up from one in 50 the week before.

The most recent figure equates to around 2.16% of the population, or an estimated 113,500 people.

According to the ONS, Scotland has the highest rates of Covid-19 of any country in the UK, with Northern Ireland showing around one in 55 people are infected, England one in 85 and Wales one in 110.

The autumn flu and Covid vaccination programme is under way for thousands of people across Scotland.

Health Boards are prioritising care homes at the beginning of the roll out; with residents and staff first to receive their jabs.

Health and social care workers and carers will be invited to book their combined flu/Covid-19 appointment using the online portal, with a range of sites/times available to choose from.

How others receive their jab will depend on a number of factors. Full details are available on the Scottish Government website.

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