Problem affects 5,000 vaccine doses in Connecticut

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2014 

— Refrigeration problems may have reduced the effectiveness of 5,000 doses of vaccines given to more than 3,800 patients in Connecticut, and people may have to get revaccinated, a medical practice said Friday.

Officials with Wethersfield-based Hartford HealthCare Medical Group said they recently discovered the vaccine doses may have been stored at the wrong temperatures long enough to render them potentially ineffective, due to mechanical problems with refrigerators in some cases and human error in others. The practice is contacting all the affected patients, none of whom were harmed, the medical group said.

The doses in question were administered from Jan. 1, 2013 to the present at the group's locations in Enfield, South Main Street in West Hartford, Storrs and the Unionville section of Farmington. None of the Storrs patients were University of Connecticut students.

Two-thirds of the vaccines in question were for the flu, pneumonia, tetanus and pertussis. The medical group said the remainder included a variety of vaccines typically given at doctors' offices including doses to prevent human papillomavirus and meningitis.

The problem was first found at the group's Enfield office when a staff member noticed the temperature of a refrigerator containing vaccines had risen into the low 40s, when vaccines are supposed to be stored between 32 and 40 degrees, said Dr. Rocco Orlando III, chief medical officer of Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. He said the refrigerator malfunctioned.

The group then checked all the refrigerators at its 24 care locations. Orlando said the problems have been resolved.

"While the folks might not be protected or immunized, there is no harm to come from this," Orlando said. "We've basically gone out to re-educate staff about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the vaccines."

Orlando said many patients will need to be immunized again. The medical group has set up a hotline for patients at 877-707-4442.

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