Tennessee Health Officials Are Working With Pfizer Scientists And Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Staff To Identify Whether Improperly Stored Or Expired Doses Of The COVID-19 Vaccine Were Administered In Shelby County.
Published March 4, 2021
By Vivian Jones [via The Center Square] –
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said state officials believe cards with expired vaccine dates were the result of a clerical error at the Shelby County Health Department. However, incomplete vaccine records missing key information, such as temperatures at which vaccine doses were stored, prompted the state to call in experts to help.
“We’re currently working with the CDC team to piece together all available points of data, to try to ensure the temperature integrity of the vaccines that have been given in Shelby County,” Piercey said at a news briefing Tuesday.
A team of staff from the CDC arrived in Shelby County on Sunday evening. The state also has called on scientists from Pfizer to consult on the stability of the Pfizer vaccine at different temperatures.
“That is a very painstakingly long and detailed process,” Piercey said. “The teams on the ground are going through that line-by-line, so we can ensure that those vaccines were in temperature.”
Piercey said there are not adverse side effects to receiving an expired dose of the vaccine. It is possible expired vaccine or vaccine stored at incorrect temperatures would not be as effective as properly stored and administered doses.
“Nothing bad is going to happen if you get an expired vaccine,” Piercey said. “I think people are getting confused thinking that this is somehow contaminated or that it’s soiled and it’s going to cause harm. That is not the case. If you were to receive an expired dose, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be harmed, it just means, it might not be as fully effective as one that was in proper temperature the entire time.”
The state has not determined how many doses were kept at the wrong temperature.
Tennessee will move to a new phase of vaccine distribution beginning Monday, allowing anyone over the age of 16 with a high-risk medical condition to make a vaccine appointment. High-risk individuals include pregnant women and those who live in the same household, and household contacts of children with high-risk medical conditions.