Some New Yorkers will have to be re-vaccinated due to improperly stored dosages

COVID-19 News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, February 22, 2021
Improperly stored dosages forces some New Yorkers to be re-vaccinated
Kristin Thorne reports on vaccine issues at Jones Beach State Park.

JONES BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- Some COVID vaccines administered at New York state's mass vaccination site at Jones Beach State Park had exceeded the permitted temperature, officials announced Monday.

All those who received the improperly stored vaccine on February 15 have been notified and have had a new shot rescheduled.

The vaccine was being transported in insulated coolers to waiting cars on a particularly cold day when a worker noticed the temperature in one cooler dropping close to the lower threshold.

The well-intentioned worker attempted to increase the temperature, and it inadvertently exceeded the upper threshold.

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Eyewitness News spoke with a woman from Nassau County, who did not want to be identified, who said her grandmother, who lives in Queens, got a call back and returned to Jones Beach on Monday to have her first dose repeated.

The woman said she was concerned, but her grandmother was taking it in stride.

"I don't want her to obviously be under vaccinated, but on the flip side is there any safety issue with her potentially now being over vaccinated because how do you know 100 percent that that dose did not take?" the woman said.

The woman said she does not want her grandmother's situation to discourage people from getting the vaccine.

"I don't want people to hear this story and be scared about getting the vaccine because I do think it's important to get the vaccine. This shouldn't be something to hold someone back," she said.

Melissa Stepinowsi, of Port Washington, got the second dose of her vaccine on February 15 at Jones Beach. She said she did not receive a call from the health department, but is still uneasy.

"The question arises, was the vaccine I got, was my batch good? Was it all batches?" she said. "I think that the state could have done a better job of notifying us."

Experts say there is no health risk from receiving the ineffective shot, and an official told Eyewitness News it was an honest mistake.

"New Yorkers' health and safety is our top priority, and due to this vaccine's very specific temperature sensitivity, we have a process in place to identify if any temperature excursions occur," New York State Department of Health Public Information Officer Jill Montag said. "This process worked, allowing us to quickly pinpoint this issue, identify the extremely small number of individuals impacted, and immediately begin taking action. The Department of Health has determined there was no health risk to New Yorkers, and we have contacted everyone involved to reschedule their appointments as soon as possible."

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the state has contacted all the affected patients.

"It was less than a quarter of one percent of the people vaccinated on that day," he said.

The issue impacted 81 out of the 1,379 doses administered at Jones Beach that day, and overall, tens of thousands of doses have been administered at Jones Beach and 3 million statewide without issue.

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