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Expired Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines given to 70 children in Prince George's County; no health risk reported

The health department said a storage error led to expired vaccines being administered, though there is no health risk to the children. Revaccinations are scheduled.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Editor's note: The video above is from Nov. 17.

The families of 70 children ages 5-11 have been notified that their child was given an expired first or second dose of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at a Nov. 26 clinic at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex, the county health department said. 

A notice from the Prince George's Health Department on Dec. 2 said there is no health risk to the children who received the expired vaccine, though those doses are less likely to be effective in protecting against the coronavirus. Department officials said they consulted extensively with Pfizer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health for the next best steps, and the recommendation is that the children should receive a replacement dose to ensure they have the most protection possible against COVID-19.

The expired doses came as a result of a storage error, the health department said.

“We deeply regret the error and we apologize for the concern and inconvenience this has caused families,” wrote Dr. George L. Askew, deputy chief administrative officer for Health, Human Services, and Education. “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.”

The health department is holding private clinics for the affected families at the Cheverly Health Center, 3003 Hospital Drive, Cheverly, MD, on Dec. 5 and Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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The families have the option to revaccinate their children sooner at any of the clinics regularly offered at certain county elementary and high schools as well as at the sports and learning complex. A calendar of scheduled vaccination clinics is available here: mypgc.us/COVIDvaccine

“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 Dr. Ernest Carter. “Our collective goal remains protecting each other during the holiday season and from emerging variants. I urge residents to get vaccinated or boosted while continuing to mask up, maintain good hygiene, and get tested, especially if you begin to feel symptoms or if you have been exposed to COVID-19.”

The health department explained what led to the error, noting that on Nov. 19, it received a transfer of 300 pediatric Pfizer doses from a provider that was unable to administer the doses before they expired on Nov. 24.

The vaccination vendor at the Sports and Learning Complex clinic, HealthCare Dynamics International, administered all but 70 of the transferred vaccine doses before the expiration date. 

These remaining 70 doses were not discarded, which is the proper protocol, and were mistakenly stored in the refrigerator with viable vaccine. On Nov. 26, the remaining doses, which were at that point expired, were mistakenly placed on a tray with viable doses and were administered at the clinic that day.

The health department reported the error to MDH and to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

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