Seventy children in Prince George’s County, Maryland, received expired doses of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, the county’s health department said Thursday.
It happened Friday, Nov. 26, at the county’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
The Prince George’s County Health Department said it has notified the families of the children, ages 5 to 11, who received expired first or second doses of the Pfizer vaccine after they were mistakenly stored in a refrigerator with usable doses.
The county health department said there is no risk to the children, although the expired doses are likely to be less effective at protecting against COVID-19.
The department will be offering special private clinics for the affected families at its Cheverly Health Center (3003 Hospital Drive) on Sunday, Dec. 5, and Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both walk-ins and appointments will be accepted.
“We deeply regret the error and we apologize for the concern and inconvenience this has caused families,” George L. Askew, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services, and education, said in a news release.
“As a pediatrician, I want to assure parents that receiving an expired COVID-19 vaccine dose or receiving a replacement dose does not endanger your child’s health. An expired dose may not provide the maximum protection that these vaccines give and that’s why the County quickly made arrangements for each of these children to get revaccinated,” Askew said.
On Nov. 19, the Prince George’s County Health Department received 300 pediatric Pfizer doses from a provider that was unable to administer them before they expired on Nov. 24.
HealthCare Dynamics International, the vaccination vendor at the Sports and Learning Complex clinic, administered all but 70 of the doses before the expiration date.
But the remaining 70 doses were not discarded, which is what should’ve happened, and instead were mistakenly stored in the refrigerator with viable vaccines, according to the health department.
On Nov. 26, those 70 expired doses were placed on a tray with viable doses and administered at the clinic that day.
“The vaccination vendor at the Sports and Learning Complex has been retrained on vaccine storage and administration protocols, and the County has been assured from the vendor administering vaccine that it has taken corrective action that will prevent this from happening again,” said Prince George’s County Health Officer Ernest Carter.
There have been various incidents of children across the country receiving the wrong dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after it was approved for use in children ages 5 to 11 last month. That includes an instance in Loudoun County, Virginia, where an adult dose was cut in third in an attempt to create a child-size dose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that when a lower dose is given, a child should receive a repeat dose.
As for expired doses, the CDC says to contact the manufacturer.
The Prince George’s Health Department said it consulted “extensively” with the CDC, Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and Pfizer before deciding that the 70 affected children should be revaccinated.
The department has reported the error to the MDH and to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
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