'Human Error' Causes More Than 6,000 Californians to Receive Low COVID-19 Vaccine Dose Alert

Errors in administering doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine caused the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to send alerts to more than 6,000 people who may have received lower dosage amounts than health officials intended.

From the afternoon of February 28 through the afternoon of March 1, those who arrived at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, to get their first vaccine dose may have been administered 0.22 milliliters of the Pfizer vaccine instead of the 0.3 ml recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an official with the CDPH told Newsweek.

The 0.22 ml dose amount is still within the volume deemed safe by the CDC, which advised the CDPH that any dose of Pfizer's vaccine that is between 0.15 and 0.3 ml is safe. The CDC's rules mean that the 0.22 ml doses believed to have been administered at the Oakland Coliseum on February 28 and March 1 are "well within" that safety range.

"The dosing difference was corrected by on-site staff on Monday [March 1] afternoon, and CDPH has implemented additional training and quality assurance steps as a preventative measure," the CDPH official said.

Though some local media outlets reported that new syringes from Pfizer caused the problem, the CDPH said that wasn't the case.

"This was caused by human error, and not an issue with syringes," the CDPH official said.

Oakland Coliseum vaccination site
California state health officials said as many as 6,300 people in Oakland may have received COVID-19 vaccine doses lower than the volume recommended by federal health officials due to "human error." In the photo above, workers erect tents as they set up the new mass vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum on February 12, 2021 in Oakland, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The CDPH said it sent alerts to approximately 6,300 individuals who had vaccine appointments at the Oakland Coliseum on the two dates in question to notify them about the dosage problem. According to a copy of the letter provided by the CDPH, the alert applied to those who received vaccines after 4:30 p.m. on February 28 and between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 1.

Those who received COVID-19 vaccine doses during those time periods do not need to take any action, because the vaccine doses are considered to have been administered within the CDC's safety guidelines, the letter said.

"While the recommended dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 0.3 ml, the CDC has determined that any dosage of 0.15 ml or larger is safe and does not require the dose to be repeated to protect people against COVID-19," the letter said. "In this instance, some individuals may have received a dose between 0.22 ml and 0.3 ml which is well within the range outlined by the CDC and the dose does not need to be repeated."

The letter went on to encourage those who thus far received only one COVID-19 vaccine dose to return after three weeks of that first dose to complete the vaccination process.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is one of three that have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. The vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna both require two doses, while a Johnson & Johnson vaccine the FDA approved for emergency use last month consists of a single dose.

Health officials in California have reported more COVID-19 infections to date than any other state in the U.S. By Monday, more than 3.5 million cases were reported in California since the start of the pandemic, with more than 54,000 COVID-19-related deaths reported statewide. Vaccination data posted on the CDPH website showed more than 10.5 million people in California received a COVID-19 vaccine by the start of the week.