Virginia pharmacy incorrectly administers COVID vaccine to 112 children, officials collect remaining doses

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen in a pop-up vaccine clinic in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on August 23, 2021.

Robin Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Last week, a Virginia pharmacy incorrectly administered the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to 112 children, according to the state health department.

“The pharmacy tried to deliver the correct dose,” Loudon County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend told CNBC on Thursday. He said that it looks like about a third of the adult dose was injected at the pharmacy, which should be the right amount. However, “a lower dose is possible if not all of 0.1 ml is injected into the muscle,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 last week at one-third of the dosage for older age groups. While Pfizer makes special color-coded vials for young children to ensure they receive the correct dosage, staff at a pharmacy in Oldie, Virginia, about 36 miles from Washington, D.C., have removed doses from vials intended for anyone over 12 years old.

Goodfriend warned parents in a letter sent Wednesday that a lower dose than recommended may have been administered at Ted Pharmacy. State and federal officials ordered the pharmacy to completely stop spreading the injections on Friday before seizing all of its doses of Covid, a Virginia Department of Health spokeswoman said in a statement.

Goodfriend added that his department was not aware of children who received too much vaccine. The Virginia Department of Health said the Ted Pharmacy administered the wrong doses of the vaccine from November 3 to 4, within two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s Covid vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.

Children in this age group receive the 10 mcg two-dose Covid vaccine, compared to the 30 mcg vaccine for children 12 and older.

In the letter, Goodfriend told parents not to give their children a higher dose for older age groups for a second shot, saying they should contact their pediatricians “to determine the best course of action for each patient.”

The letter offered parents two options for completing their children’s COVID vaccination: they can either resume the vaccination process at least 21 days after the wrong dose was given, or they can complete the second vaccination at the correct dosage of 10 micrograms as scheduled.

“VDH is also working to contact parents to make sure they understand the next steps,” the department said in a statement. “VDH has not received any other reports of pharmacies or vendors administering COVID-19 vaccines designed for children 12 and older, children 5-11 years old.”

Pfizer supplies vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 with orange caps, labels and boxes to distinguish them from the purple vaccine packaging for children 12 and older. Pfizer told the FDA’s Advisory Committee on October 26 to the FDA’s Advisory Committee.

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