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Defrosted vaccines still potent, recipients are told

People queue in the rain at the Bermuda College Covid-19 vaccination centre on March 3. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A batch of Covid-19 vaccines was left to defrost for longer than recommended before being given to 41 people earlier this month.

Chief Medical Officer Ayoola Oyinloye sent a letter yesterday to those who received the shot at Bermuda College on the evening of March 3, assuring them the vaccine was “still safe and potent”.

He told The Royal Gazette last night: “There were 41 people vaccinated at the Bermuda College in a 20 minute window outside the manufacturer recommended five days from defrosting.

“The letter was sent to them as part of our duty of candour. As stated in the letter, there is no harm or reduction in efficacy expected.”

A letter to a recipient was obtained by The Royal Gazette.

Dr Oyinloye wrote: “This is to make you aware that the Pfizer BioNTech batch number EN1185 vaccination you received at the Bermuda College on Wednesday, March 3, 2021...was a few minutes outside of the manufacturers’ recommended defrosting time.

“We have inquired with the national vaccination lead for the United Kingdom and have been assured that this vaccine is still safe and potent.”

Dr Oyinloye added: “This is to keep you informed about care received in our service.”

The letter, dated March 25, reminded those who got their first dose to schedule a second dose 21 days later.

For those who received the vaccine on March 3, that would have been yesterday, Wednesday, March 24.

The CMO said those who got their second shot on March 3 did not “need to do anything different”.

The Ministry of Health issued a plea on the afternoon of March 3 for people aged 65 and over to attend the college and hospital vaccination centres because of a “large number of Covid-19 vaccine doses available“ that had to be used that day or be thrown out.

Hundreds of people, including lots younger than 65, turned up and queued in the rain at both centres to receive an injection.

The vaccination sessions went on into the evening, with health minister Kim Wilson attending the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and asking those waiting to let others know about the surplus.

She later praised those who turned out and said there was an excess supply that day because of a miscalculation about how many vials would be needed for the week.

Bermuda had administered about 30,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, supplied free of charge by the United Kingdom, as of March 18.

The figure was announced this week in Bermuda and on Tuesday in the British House of Commons by foreign office minister Nigel Adams, who also gave the number of doses administered in the other British Overseas Territories.

Anguilla has administered 5,500, Ascension 816, British Virgin Islands 6,500, Cayman Islands 38,300, Falkland Islands 1,787, Gibraltar 53,171, Montserrat 1,140, Pitcairn and Tristan da Cunha 0, St Helena 3,400, and Turks and Caicos 11,283.

The Pfizer vaccine must be injected within five days of the doses being thawed from sub-zero storage temperatures.

* Did you receive a letter from the CMO about your vaccine dose? Email news@royalgazette.com if you want to comment.

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Published March 26, 2021 at 8:49 am (Updated March 26, 2021 at 8:49 am)

Defrosted vaccines still potent, recipients are told

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