The Loudoun County Health Department barred a Virginia pharmacy from the state's vaccination program after it reportedly administered the incorrect COVID-19 dosage to at least 112 young children last week. The Ted Pharmacy in Aldie, Virginia, allegedly "incorrectly administered" partial doses of adult COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, "Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as adults."
The CDC notes, "The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents. However, children ages 5 through 11 years cannot get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine given to adults and adolescents."
"In addition, children ages 5 through 11 years receive an age-appropriate dose that is one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine," the health agency explains. "Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are also used for children ages 5 through 11 years."
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are contained in color-coded vials to distinguish between vaccines intended for 5- to 11-year-olds and those 12 and older. The vaccine mix-up was exposed by an eagle-eyed mother who knew the differences between the colors of the vials.
Dasha Hermosilla noticed that her 7-year-old daughter was getting a vaccine with a purple cap – for kids ages 12 and older. The mother knew her daughter was supposed to get a vaccine with an orange cap – designated for children ages 5-11.
Hermosilla told WRC-TV, "I had this pit in my stomach like, what did they just do to my daughter?"
The mother reportedly confronted the pharmacist about the vaccine mistake.The pharmacist allegedly told her that it was fine for her 7-year-old to receive the vaccine made for older kids.
She did an internet search and didn't see any medical information stating that the two vaccines are interchangeable.
"I would have never done this if I knew they were giving the adult reformulated vaccine. Absolutely not," Hermosilla told WTTG. "I should've pushed her to show me the vile of orange which she didn't have and then I should've left."
"There are dozens and dozens of families out there that don't even know that this is an issue," Hermosilla said.
Loudoun County Department of Health Director David Goodfriend wrote in a letter, "The pharmacy who administered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to your child last week has been removed from both state and federal COVID-19 vaccination programs."
Goodfriend told the Washington Post, "Because they did not have the children's formulation they used the adult formulation but only gave a third of the amount to the children."
"Our understanding from Ted Pharmacy is they were trying to do a workaround, which is not authorized," Goodfriend continued. "If it doesn't all go in, or if goes into the body but doesn't go into the muscle, or you didn't draw it up exactly to the [correct] line, there's a chance you might get too little vaccine. There's also a chance it could have given too much."
Authorities confiscated the remaining amount of Ted Pharmacy's COVID-19 vaccines and ordered it to contact the families of those who had received the incorrect shots.
The board of pharmacy would not reveal to WTTG if there is an active investigation into the vaccine mistake and would not say if the pharmacy violated any laws or regulations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 on Oct. 29. The CDC recommended children get the vaccine on Nov. 2.