KEY POINTS

  • State officials assured those who got the vaccine were not at any health risk
  • The email notification said the vaccine administered will not fully protect against the virus
  • The vaccinations were given in a New York state-run site at Jones Beach 

As the U.S. struggles to catch up on the vaccinations delayed by the winter storm that impacted much of the country, another setback has raised the worry barometer even higher on Long Island in New York.  

When a batch of COVID-19 vaccines, as many as 81 doses, were administered at a state-run vaccination site at Jones Beach on Feb. 15, they shouldn't have been — because they were not stored at the correct temperature.

Everyone who received those doses were notified and urged to get vaccinated again.

“It was less than a quarter of 1%,” Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, said. Zucker added that they know exactly who got those doses and the people have been notified to get revaccinated. 

Health officials said that an email notification was sent to New York state residents who received the doses. The email noted that even though there are no health risks associated with the doses that were given, the vaccination would not be fully effective against the coronavirus, NBC New York noted. 

It was not clear which vaccine was administered on Feb. 15 at Jones Beach. The U.S. has given emergency-use authorization for two vaccines — Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — which need to be stored at varying cold temperatures. Both are being widely distributed for use. 

“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,” Jill Montag, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health, said in a statement. 

Montag said that the process worked, and it allowed the department to identify the issue and the small number of individuals impacted. Immediate action was then taken. 

Meanwhile, Pfizer has now asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to relax the temperature requirements for the storage of its vaccines. It has submitted new data to the drug regulator to show the stability of its COVID-19 vaccine when stored at -13°F to 5°F. 

The current label requires the vaccine to be stored in an ultra-cold freezer at temperatures between -112ºF to -76ºF. 

Moderna's vaccine needs to be stored at -13°F to 5°F. 

Drugmakers worldwide defied predictions by finalising not just one SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in record time, but half a dozen Drugmakers worldwide defied predictions by finalising not just one SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in record time, but half a dozen Photo: AFP / Pascal GUYOT