NEW HAVEN, Conn. — An independent review is being planned as New Haven officials continue to piece together what led up to a temperature excursion that affected hundreds of its Pfizer COVID vaccines that went into people's arms.
Mayor Justin Elicker, Health Director Maritza Bond, and Community Services Director Mehul Dalal provided an update Thursday afternoon regarding the 650 or so vaccines. People who received the Pfizer vaccine at the city's 45 Meadow Street clinic between Dec. 23 and Feb. 7 have been affected.
Rev. Boise Kimber of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association, also held a press conference Thursday about the incident. He said it should've been brought to the public's attention sooner.
"It is negligent," Kimber said. "It took the city three days to respond to the public."
Bond said that last Tuesday, she was notified of the discrepancy in which hundreds of Pfizer vaccines were left in the freezer longer than what the manufacturer recommends. A report of who was affected and then started. When the report was completed on Friday, Bond said she notified the mayor and the public.
The Dept. of Public Health and Pfizer both recommend later Friday that affected patients get another shot, Bond said.
Elicker said he knows an incident like this can have an impact on the trust people have in the city, and they will be getting answers.
"My hope is that people see that we are committed to correcting this error. Frankly, I am very grateful that no one got hurt, and I think that our response needs to be strong," Elicker said.
Officials emphasize that there is no evidence that the affected doses will impact one's health, but the vaccine's efficacy might be impacted.
New Haven officials cross-referenced vaccine recipient information with DPH, and have determined that no one has since contracted COVID after a PCR test unless they took an at-home test, Bond added.
As investigational reviews continue, officials have already determined this is an isolated incident, where there was a lack of communication of checking the time as to when the batches of vaccines had to be moved from the freezer to the refrigerator.
"While it's tempting to jump to conclusions...we want to be just very cautious that we do things properly, and so it was clear that there was a lapse in communication which that the vaccines were not transferred properly at the right time," Elicker said. "But at this moment we don't want to get into a lot of details on employee issues before we make sure that process takes place."
DPH also did its own investigation, and officials said there were no findings of concern.
As officials reach out to the affected people, they have so far been able to reach 61% of them.
The independent review should determine what led up to the miscommunication that led to freezing the vaccines for too long. Then, officials will determine the next steps for accountability.
"I'm very anxious to identify if there were any specific issues and make sure that we move this along as quickly as possible," Elicker said.
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