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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Syringes reused at B.C. pharmacy giving COVID-19 vaccine; college investigating

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Syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy, the Fraser Health Authority has confirmed.

Fraser Health confirmed Tuesday by email that its staff had been made aware that syringes – “the plastic tube which holds the vaccine solution, not the needles” – were reused at a pharmacy in its jurisdiction.

A spokesperson described it as “an infection prevention and control lapse.”

“While the risk of contracting a bloodborne illness as a result of reusing a syringe is low, we encourage all affected individuals to seek care from their family physician or walk-in clinic to eliminate this potential concern,” Fraser Health said.

The authority did not confirm where in its region, which spans from Burnaby to Boston Bar, the pharmacy was located.

It said the pharmacy was participating in a provincial pilot program testing the ability of pharmacies to use a specific booking system, and that the location was suspended from the program once it was learned that syringes were being reused.

The B.C. College of Pharmacists is investigating, Fraser Health said. CTV News has reached out to the college for more information.

The pharmacist involved, who was not identified by Fraser Health, is no longer giving out vaccines.

“We take control lapse very seriously,” the authority spokesperson said.

“As soon as we became aware of the issue, our Public Health team began following up with impacted patients regarding appropriate next steps to ensure their well-being.”

Health authority staff first attempted to contact these patients by phone, then followed up with a letter.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as among the “most notable” bloodborne diseases. Others include malaria, syphilis and brucellosis, though the BCCDC says there are many other pathogens that can be carried through the blood.

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