More than 240 doses of HPV vaccine worth a total of $32,000 were lost after a refrigerator at a Hamilton immunization clinic broke down this spring.
The backup battery was not replaced during the fridge maintenance company’s annual inspection in February, the city said.
“The vaccines lose potency depending on the temperature to which they’re exposed to,” said Kim Dias, program manager for Hamilton’s vaccine preventable disease program.
The loss means that Public Health Services (PHS) will not meet the 2012 vaccination wastage target set by the province at 0.5 per cent.
The 241 doses lost will up their wastage rate to 4.3 per cent. It works out to roughly $133 per dose.
But while the goods are gone, the financial loss will be on the provincial end.
“Nobody has to really technically pay for it,” Dias said.
“It’s just a hit to the provincial program.”
The program administers HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccines, commonly known as Gardasil to Grade 8 girls across the city. It prevents HPV infections that can sometimes cause cancer of the cervix and vagina.
The vaccine is given over a course of three shots — one in September at the start of the school year, a second in January or February, and then one at the end of the school year in April or May.
Approximately 4,000 doses have been given out so far this calendar year — though another round of shots (the first dose for the next set of Grade 8 girls) will be given in September.
Dias expects 5,700 girls will be vaccinated this year in Hamilton — the same as last year.
While the loss will cost the provincial program $32,000, Dias said, she stressed that it will not affect availability for the local initiative. There is no shortage across the province, so the government will have to just eat the cost.
In order to minimize future vaccine wastage, the city is looking into alarming the backup battery. A request for quote (RFQ) has been issued to look into having one streamlined alarm monitoring company look after each of the city’s vaccine refrigerators.
In the meantime, they are storing elsewhere.
PHS are also reviewing policies surrounding staff training and handling of vaccines.