Iranian social media users have reported being offered out-of-date AstraZeneca vaccines on going for their third or fourth jab to protect against Covid-19.
On Thursday night, a Twitter user going by the name Parham said that on attending a health center earlier that day and asking to see the vial containing his dose, he discovered it had expired in June. The person administering the jabs, he said, told him: “Let’s extend it until August.”
رفتم دوز ۴ زدم، میگم ویال رو ببینم میخوام عکس بگیرم، میگه ما اجازه نداریم.— پرهام (@Parhamahp) July 13, 2022
با کلی بحث مسئول اصلی اجازه داد، دیدم بله تاریخ گذشته میزنن به ملت.
رفتم بهداشت، مسئول بهداشت میگه "ما تصمیم گرفتیم که تاریخ واکسن ها تا مرداد تمدید بشن ولی برچسب ها رو عوض نکردیم، هزینه اضافست". pic.twitter.com/vBHDNLSmLT
Even worse, he added: “They said changing the label would come at an extra cost, and that’s why they didn’t do it.”
Several others reported the same. One user said that on noticing their own vaccine was out of date, staff became irate, telling him: “We know more about health than you.”
The newspaper Etemad also reported on Thursday that some vials seen in use at sites Tehran and Mashhad had been re-labeled: originally due to expire at the end of June, with July 9 the absolute latest date for use, they had been pasted over with labels putting the deadline at August 17 to 26.
The reports prompted an official at the Ministry of Health to confirm that the very last shipment of AstraZeneca in Iran was due to expire in three days, and doses already distributed to health centers would be recalled.
Mohsen Zahraei, head of the Ministry’s Department of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, added: “If people come across an expired vaccine, challenge the center about it.” Iran’s electronic system for vaccine registration, he said, would not recognize expired doses when logged.
No update has been published for some time on the quantity of imported vaccines remaining in Iran. New imports came to a halt in January. Despite this, on Friday, Minister of Health Bahram Ainollahi told reporters: “I think our country has entered the seventh wave of corona. People must now seek a booster dose of the vaccine."
In the last week the number of newly-detected coronavirus infections in Iran has risen tenfold, from around 500 to 5,234. The death toll from Covid-19 reached double digits again for the first time in months.