Health Dept. looking into reported vaccinations of children under 12

By The Star Staff

The island Health Department on Tuesday launched a probe against two health care providers who administered COVID-19 vaccines to children under 12 years of age, for whom vaccination against the virus is not indicated.

“The vaccine is authorized for emergency use in people over 12 years of age by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. At this time, no provider is authorized to vaccinate a child under 12 years of age,” Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said. “We have repeatedly reviewed the guidelines. However, we have detected a vaccination pattern in minors by two providers that alerted us and we are investigating.”

The situation was immediately referred to the agency’s Office of Investigations for due process. Fortunately, all the minors are in good health, Mellado López said.

One provider under investigation is located in the southern region of the island. According to the probe, 22 children between the ages of seven and 11 were administered a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The second dose will be administered once they reach the age allowed by the FDA.

The second provider under investigation serves the Caguas area. That provider vaccinated about 65 minors. Of those, 34 patients are awaiting the second dose of the vaccine once they reach the allowed age.

As detailed by Chief Medical Officer Iris Cardona Gerena, all providers have been given training. Meetings are held every week with providers and they must comply with the agreements, guidance and recommendations, among other issues that are addressed. In addition, the Puerto Rico Electronic Immunization System data is reviewed weekly.

“There are procedures established by the federal government that we follow in the vaccination process in Puerto Rico. In this sense, a report of cases of administration error is completed through the adverse event surveillance system (VAERS),” Cardona Gerena said.

“So far, we have reported a total of 46 cases. Among the errors identified are the administration of vaccines outside the allowed age, using a lower dose than indicated, starting a series and ending with another brand of vaccine, and administering more than two doses.

To these 46 cases are added the 88 cases that are under investigation.”

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