Thousands of Californians were given the wrong Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses this week due to an issue with the syringes, whistleblowers have revealed. Health workers at the Oakland Coliseum mass vaccination site told FOX2 KTVU that they were sent a type of syringe that collects only a small portion of vaccine in its plastic chamber from the national stockpile, which resulted in people being administered wrong doses of the vaccine.
The problem was detected on Monday but by that time thousands had already received the vaccine that had lower doses than prescribed. Following the revelations, the health workers at the site were reportedly asked to remain anonymous to keep their jobs but the news somehow got leaked.
The problem at the Coliseum site stems from the orange-capped syringes that were used and the amount of Pfizer vaccine that they can deliver. The vaccination site received syringes that leave about 0.05ml to 0.1ml of vaccine stuck in the plunger. The correct dose of Pfizer vaccine is 0.3ml. So patients who were vaccinated on Monday morning got only 0.2ml or only two-third of the prescribed dose.
Although it's not exactly known how many people by that time had been administered the wrong doses, an EMT to FOX2KTVU that at least 4,300 people are likely to have received wrong doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on Monday before the problem was detected.
At the correct dosage, two shots of Pfizer's vaccine are about 95 percent effective. However, there is little data on how much protection a lower dose offers. Moreover, it's not known if lower does are at all effective or instead pose a threat.
Cause of Concern
Officials, on the other hand, have asked people not to panic. California OES spokesman Brian Ferguson reportedly said that he didn't think anyone was formally underdosed and that there wasn't any need to contact the individuals who received the lower vaccine amount.
Although authorities are busy doing damage control and have been trying to claim that there's no reason to worry, then why did they ask the workers at the vaccine site to stay anonymous. The California Office of Emergency Services, which runs the site with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said high-level meetings were held on Tuesday afternoon after whistleblowers alerted the issue.
The claim comes at a time when people nationwide are clamoring to get vaccinated amid confusion around shortages and who is eligible to get the vaccine.
A spokesperson for the site told FOX2KTVU that the amount left behind in each syringe was likely "negligible," but the two EMTs who raised the issue claimed that management wanted to "sweep the problem under the rug" just to keep the vaccination numbers high. The Coliseum site opened on February 16 and can vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. However, it's not known if the earlier shipments too contained problematic syringes.
The issue with syringe had gained national attention earlier too during the vaccine rollout. A similar syringe issue was reported across the country in January when Operation Warp Speed vaccination kits contained syringes that kept portions of the vaccine trapped inside.