Pennsylvania providers misusing vaccine doses may cause vaccination delays for 100K residents, state says

Pennsylvania health officials said Feb. 17 that they discovered some vaccine providers have been mistakenly misusing second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which may force more than 100,000 of the state's residents to wait days or weeks longer for their vaccines, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The health officials discovered that some providers have been giving out vaccines intended to be second doses as first doses instead. The issue had been going on for weeks, and health officials couldn't explain why it went undetected, according to the Inquirer

Because providers were giving out second doses as first doses, the state is now experiencing a shortage of the vaccine and will have to delay vaccinations for thousands of residents, the Inquirer reported. Up to 60,000 second-dose appointments may need to be rescheduled, and 55,000 first doses may not be delivered to providers on time. 

Barry Ciccocioppo, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told the Inquirer that the mistake was detected when the health department was preparing the state's weekly vaccine request for the federal government and saw providers had asked for at least 57,000 more Moderna doses than the state expected. 

Health officials said everyone should still be able to get their second dose within six weeks of when they received their first dose. The Moderna vaccine's second dose is supposed to be given four weeks after the first dose, but the CDC has said second doses can be safely given up to six weeks after the first dose without affecting efficacy, the Inquirer reported. 

To address the shortage, the state said it will distribute one week's worth of second doses over the course of three weeks, and everyone whose appointments have to be rescheduled should be vaccinated by mid-March, according to the Inquirer

Mr. Ciccocioppo told the Inquirer that providers may have been confused over state guidance on first doses versus second doses, or vaccine shipments may not have been clearly labeled as first or second doses. The state has been telling providers not to hold back first doses to create their own supply of second doses, but Mr. Ciccioppo said providers may have mistakenly interpreted that as not to hold back any doses at all. 

"We should have been more clear,” he told the Inquirer. "We meant 'Don't hold back first doses.'"

Pennsylvania's acting Health Secretary Alison Beam told the Inquirer the state has put "controls" in place to make sure the error doesn't happen again, but didn't specify what measures were being taken. 

Read the full article here

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