Virginia pharmacy incorrectly administers Covid vaccine to 112 kids, officials pull remaining doses

Health, Fitness & Food

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen at a pop up vaccine clinic in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, August 23, 2021.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

A pharmacy in Virginia incorrectly administered Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 shots to 112 children last week, according to the state Department of Health.

Although Pfizer makes special color-coded vials for younger children to ensure they get the right dosage, employees at a pharmacy in Aldie, Va., located about 36 miles outs ide of Washington, D.C., pulled the doses from the vials intended for anyone 12 and older.

The CDC cleared Pfizer’s shots for kids ages 5 to 11 last week at a third of the dosage for older age groups.

“The pharmacy attempted to provide a proper dose,” Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, told CNBC. He said it appears the pharmacy did, in fact, administer about a third of the adult dose, which should be the correct amount. However, he said, “a lower dose is possible if not all of the 0.1 ml was administered into muscle.”

The Loudon County Health Department alerted parents that Ted Pharmacy may have administered a lower dose than recommended, according to a letter it sent out on Wednesday. State and federal officials told the pharmacy to stop distributing shots altogether on Friday before seizing all of its Covid doses, a Virginia health department spokesperson said in a statement.

Goodfriend added that his department was not aware of any children receiving too much vaccine. Virginia’s Department of Health said Ted Pharmacy administered the improper vaccine doses from Nov. 3 to 4, within two days of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approving Pfizer’s Covid shots for children 5 to 11.

Kids in that age group receive a two-dose, 10 microgram Covid vaccine regimen, compared to the 30 microgram shots for those 12 and older.

Goodfriend told parents in the letter to avoid giving their children a higher dose meant for older age groups for their second shot, saying they should contact their pediatricians “to determine the best course of action for each patient.”

The letter gave parents two options for completing their children’s Covid vaccine series: they can either restart the vaccination process at least 21 days after the incorrect dose was administered or complete the second shot with the proper 10 microgram dosage as scheduled.

“VDH is also working to contact parents and ensure they understand the guidance on next steps,” the department’s statement said. “VDH has not received any other reports of pharmacies or providers administering COVID-19 vaccines formulated for 12 years and older to children 5-11 years old.”

Pfizer’s ships its vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds with orange caps, labels and boxes to distinguish them from the purple packaging on shots for those 12 and older. The shots also contain new instructions and dilution warnings to help prevent medical providers from confusing the two shots, Pfizer representatives told the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee on Oct. 26.

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