WANTAGH, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Dozens of people who got the COVID-19 vaccine at a site on Long Island will have to retake their shots after learning that the doses were not viable.
A Nassau County resident wrote on social media that her grandmother received the first dose of the Pfizer COVID--19 vaccine at the Jones Beach distribution site.
However, she was later contacted and told she would need to come back and receive the shot a second time because the vaccine was "out too long" and had not been stored at the proper temperature.
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports it was apparently an issue with transporting the vaccine and that the temperature of the insulated cooler was turned up too high, ruining the doses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, the vaccine must be stored in an ultra-cold freezer between -112°F and -76°F.
State health officials say the issue impacted 81 out of the 1,379 doses administered last Monday at the Jones Beach site.
"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," a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health said in a statement to WCBS 880. "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."
Despite the reassurances from health officials, the Nassau County woman worries about her grandmother.
"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 100% that that dose did not take?" the woman said.
However, she tells Hall that she does not want to deter anyone with this story about getting the vaccine, which she believes is important.
Those affected were contacted to reschedule their first or second dose appointments as soon as possible.
"It was less than a quarter of one percent of the people who were vaccinated on that day. This vaccine is very sensitive to temperature ranges. We knew exactly who it was, we have contacted them, they will get revaccinated. This is the whole benefit of having a great checks and balances system in place. So we were able to identify this and appropriately intervene," State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's teleconference briefing Monday.
Overall, tens of thousands of doses have been administered at Jones Beach. Statewide, more than 3 million shots have been administered.
Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine released the results of a study that found the Pfizer vaccine has a 92.6% efficacy after just one dose and can be safely stored in ordinary freezers instead of ultracold.
The findings, however, have not altered the government's guidance.
"People need to continue to get their second shot,” Andy Slavitt, senior White House adviser for COVID response, told CNN's Chris Cuomo last week. “The second shot does add significantly to their immunity, and what we have to do is we have to get more quickly through our first doses.”