Pop-up clinic in Winnipeg mistakenly hands out AstraZeneca vaccine doses instead of Moderna

WINNIPEG — A group of Winnipeggers who believed they had been given a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are now finding out they might have been immunized with an AstraZeneca dose by mistake.

For her first shot, Terry Rogowsky had received a Pfizer dose but opted to get a Moderna dose for her second shot due to the limited number of Pfizer doses available.

That is what brought Rogowsky, her husband, her son and a few of her co-workers to the pop-up clinic at the Weston Memorial Community Centre run by NorWest Co-op Community Health on June 24 – to roll up their sleeves and get a shot of what they were told was the Moderna vaccine.

A day after receiving their vaccines, however, Rogowsky said her husband, her son and two of her co-workers got a letter from NorWest.

The letter said of the 95 doses of vaccine that were available at the clinic, 11 mistakenly contained the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of Moderna. The letter went on to say the clinic is not able to confirm if they had been immunized with AstraZeneca or Moderna.

“We are sorry for any worry you might feel when hearing this news. We apologize for this error and have taken appropriate steps to ensure this will not occur again,” the letter reads.

“We want to assure you that both of these vaccines are safe and effective in the prevention of COVID-19 and both are safe and effective whether you receive one of each type or both of the same type.”

The letter goes on to say if those who received the letter experience any “rare but serious signs or symptoms” within 42 days, they should go to the nearest emergency department or health centre for immediate assessment.

A provincial spokesperson confirmed the slip-up.

“Our clinical team was notified by NorWest immediately after NorWest realized the error. The clinical team reviewed the safety and effectiveness implications of the situation,” a spokesperson for the province told CTV News in a statement.

“While a very rare occurrence, there have been previous instances where a person received a vaccine which was not (what) they had anticipated.”

Kristin Bergen, the director of primary care for NorWest, told CTV News a small amount of AstraZeneca doses had been administered at the pop-up. Upon realizing the mistake, Bergen said Norwest contacted the provincial vaccine clinical team, and wrote letters to the patients explaining the error.

“We apologized for any worry this may have caused them hearing this news and have taken appropriate steps to ensure this will not occur again,” she said in an email to CTV News.

“It’s important to note that the outcome for the client remains the same – protection against COVID-19. All vaccines administered in Manitoba/Canada have been approved by Health Canada.”

Still the mistake has left Rogowsky and her family frustrated and concerned.

“I’m watching my son and my husband like a hawk, making sure nobody’s feeling any odd symptoms. I’m panicked for them,” Rogowsky told CTV News.

“My husband now doesn’t know what he should be getting for his second dosage, because he doesn’t actually know what he got for his first dosage.”

The letter from NorWest recommended her husband receive a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for his second dose.

Despite the letter, Rogowsky said she has more questions and not many answers.

“I need to know that this isn’t going to happen to anybody else. I don’t want anybody to be afraid to get the vaccine,” she said.

“You shouldn’t have that fear that you may be getting the wrong vaccine. That’s not right.” 

NorWest Co-op Community Health letter

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