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70 young children accidentally given expired Pfizer vaccine doses

70 young children accidentally given expired Pfizer vaccine doses (WKRC file)
70 young children accidentally given expired Pfizer vaccine doses (WKRC file)
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LARGO, Md. (WJLA/WKRC) — 70 children in Maryland, ages 5-11, received an expired dose of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine due to a vaccine storage error at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex, the county's health department said.

The incident happened on Nov. 26, and health officials say there were children there getting their first dose, as well as children getting their second.

The CDC, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), Pfizer, and the county health department recommended they receive a replacement dose to ensure they are protected against COVID-19.

“We deeply regret the error, and we apologize for the concern and inconvenience this has caused families,” said Dr. George L. Askew, the 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 re-vaccinated.”

In a press release, Prince George's County officials said there is no health risk to the children who received the expired dose.

The county health department will offer special private clinics for the affected families, who were recently notified, at the Cheverly Health Center on Sunday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk-ins will be accepted.

"If the families want to get re-vaccinated sooner, they are also invited to attend any of the regular clinics offered at select county elementary and high schools, as well as at the Sports and Learning Complex," the press release stated.

The county health department received the 300 pediatric Pfizer vaccines on Nov. 19, but employees were unable to administer the doses before they expired on Nov. 24. All but 70 doses were given before the expiration date, but those doses were not discarded and were mistakenly stored with the viable vaccines.

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“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.”

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