Vancouver Coastal Health is apologizing and says it’s updating its immunization processes after confirming a dozen incidents in which youth were given the wrong COVID-19 vaccine.
The health authority says the errors happened Friday and Saturday during the first full week that children aged 12 to 17 could get their first dose.
It says in a statement that 12 youth received doses of Moderna rather than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in those between 12 and 17 in Canada.
It says Moderna recently announced that clinical trials for adolescents found its vaccine to be safe and effective, but its use for people under 18 has yet to be approved in Canada.
The statement says Vancouver Coastal Health medical officers do not believe the use of Moderna will impact the 12 youth who received the shot.
It says the people who administered the shots recognized their error and disclosed it to the clients and their families, and additional education and processes are now in place to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called the error unfortunate, but says officials don’t believe the recipients will suffer any clinical harm.
Dr. Henry told a news conference on Monday that she expects the Moderna vaccine will soon be approved for youth between 12 and 17, and in that case, the youth would receive Moderna as their second dose as well.
“That does not excuse the fact that it should not have happened,” she said.
“The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has looked at the interchangeability of the two mRNA vaccines and supports that there’s no safety concerns or effectiveness concerns if you have a Moderna and then a Pfizer or vice versa,” Dr. Henry added.
Pfizer had been the only vaccine available at Vancouver Coastal Health clinics for an extended period, until this past weekend, when Moderna was the primary shot being offered, the health authority’s statement says.
“With both a new age cohort and a different vaccine on site, errors were made on May 28-29, in which immunizers used the Moderna vaccine instead of the Pfizer product for adolescents,” it says.
Clinics will have dedicated staff and stations for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines where feasible, it says, and new questions to identify youth under 18 have been added to the immunizer’s screening checklist.
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