Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Sentinel Colorado and was shared via AP StoryShare. It was written by Kara Mason, a Sentinel staff writer.
By Kara Mason,
Aurora – Nearly 11 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Colorado since late 2020. Of those, the state health department says 20,559 have been determined to be “invalid.”
Those invalid vaccines — mostly due to not being stored correctly prior to being given to patients — only account for about .18% of total vaccines administered. Still, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has set out to notify every person who received those doses, which may not provide as much protection against infection, and advise them to get another shot.
So far, the state has notified 13,108 people, an agency spokesperson told The Sentinel. Last month, the state suspended the vaccine program at the Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice’s Family Medicine Clinic for Health Equity, which had operated 63 clinics around metro Denver, including several in Aurora, between Feb. 21, 2021 and Jan. 16, 2022 because CDPHE staffers said they found “issues related to storage and handling of COVID-19 vaccines at off-site clinics.” 1,810 adults and children 5-years-old and younger received COVID-19 vaccines at those clinics, which targeted many immigrant and non-English speaking communities in south Denver and Aurora.
In an attempt to reach those patients, a CDPHE spokesperson said the department sent emails, text messages and made phone calls in addition to sending a news release to the media. Those communications were also translated into Spanish, Somali, Nepali/Nepalese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese.
“When there is a potential need for re-vaccination because of invalid vaccines, CDPHE takes a multi-prong approach,” the department said in a statement. “We do broad communications in these circumstances, and we are also committed to contacting people for whom contact information exists, and provide specific guidance on getting revaccinated based on their vaccination history.”
Each vaccine provider in Colorado is required to enter all administered vaccines into a state database, called the Colorado Immunization Information System. If determined to be invalid, CDPHE will make a note on that record.
In some instances, the state health department said, people have had problems with records and verifying doses for work or international travel, but it has, so far, been infrequent. For the most part, to be considered “fully vaccinated” a person must receive two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Jansen, also known as Johnson and Johnson, with the most recent dose at least 14 days prior to traveling. Regulations may vary by country.
People who have received an invalid dose should receive another shot, the department says.
“There are no negative side effects associated with receiving an invalid dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The only risk associated with an invalid dose is that it may not offer protection from COVID-19 the way a valid dose does, and we cannot confirm the efficacy of the administered doses,” a department spokesperson said. “Specific revaccination guidance and recommendations comes from the CDC, and it depends on multiple variables. CDPHE works directly with vaccine manufacturers and CDC on these instances to determine what impacted patients need to do and communicates those instructions accordingly.”
Coloradans who have received an invalid vaccination and need additional support or have questions can contact CDPHE at email@example.com or 303-692-2700.