A Kentucky doctor and his wife are being held accountable for mishandling flu vaccines that led to an infectious outbreak across three states.

The Lexington Herald-Leader on Friday reported that Dr. Paul E. McLaughlin had been reprimanded by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for contributing to a “public health crisis.” The “crisis” stems from seasonal flu shots administered in fall 2018, which were administered by a company called “Location Vaccination.”

Location Vaccination was a private health company owned and operated by McLaughlin’s wife Fairshinda Sabounchi McLaughlin and based in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, with is roughly 35 miles from Lexington and 110 miles from Cincinnati. 

The company had been hired to administer flu shots to employees within municipalities spread across Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Reports would emerge in late November of patients suffering from swelling, redness, and lumps around the injection spot.

“Practices by someone to provide care to prevent disease actually did the very opposite,” Dr. Ruth Carrico, a University of Louisville infectious disease specialist, told local media. “It actually resulted in patient harm, and when you look at that, this is not excusable. This should not have happened.”

The Kentucky Department of Public Health released a statement on Feb. 1 that revealed their investigation had narrowed it down to Location Vaccination and that the infections were due to improper storage of vaccines.

The Center for Disease Control was contacted by an unnamed caller from Dr. McLaughlin’s office, revealing 16 patients who had been suffering from “big abscess nodules” near the injection point. When contacted by the CDC, Dr. McLaughlin reportedly said he had suffered a similar reaction but it went away with antibiotics.

Also, Dr. McLaughlin’s wife reportedly prescribed steroids and antibiotics without taking the proper steps. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure revealed that these actions could have led to further medical problems, even death, if patients suffered from some kind of immune disorder.

McLaughlin has been placed on a five-year probation and fined $5,000. He will also have to attend ethics training, five hours of medical education classes, and prepare a written policy for properly storing vaccines and how to correctly respond to adverse reactions.

MMR vaccine This picture taken on April 5, 2019 shows a nurse preparing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York. Photo: Getty Images/Johannes Eisele