2021 | Coronavirus

98 students given incorrect COVID-19 vaccine dose at South Lake Elementary clinic

Additional shot recommended ‘as soon as possible’

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This story was updated at 3:05 p.m. Nov. 16, 2021, to add comments from the Montgomery County Council.

Nearly 100 students at South Lake Elementary School were given COVID-19 vaccine doses that were “diluted more than recommended” and are being asked to get the shot again, according to the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.

In a press release on Monday evening, the department wrote that 98 students were given the incorrect dose during a clinic at the school in Gaithersburg on Nov. 10.

Another clinic will be held at the school on Wednesday, so the affected students can receive an additional dose. Those who cannot attend are encouraged to receive “an additional dose as soon as possible,” the press release said.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that an employee realized on Saturday, three days after the clinic, that they had diluted the vaccine doses more than recommended.

The employee immediately notified health officials, who consulted with the Maryland Department of Health and with Pfizer. Both recommended the children receive an additional dose as soon as possible.

The additional shots still will be considered the children’s first. They will need to get another dose about two weeks later to be considered fully vaccinated.

“We apologize for the error, and we are offering another opportunity for the children to be revaccinated,” James Bridgers, the acting county health officer, said in the press release. “We are confident that this is an isolated situation and staff have already received additional training on reconstituting and administering pediatric doses.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Montgomery County Council issued a statement about the error, saying council members were “extremely concerned.”

“We shared our concerns directly with our Acting Health Officer Dr. James Bridgers, who has assured us that the department is conducting a top-to-bottom review of this issue and has identified human error as the cause of the diluted doses,” the council statement says.

It continues: “Councilmembers have been assured that this is an isolated situation and that staff have already received additional training on reconstitution and administering pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The vaccination clinic at South Lake Elementary School was intended to target high-needs communities. About 61% of South Lake’s students are English language learners and 85% are eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, a measure MCPS uses as an indicator of poverty.

About 19,200 children ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Montgomery County, according to the health department.