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Vaccine given to teen prompts changes at Anchorage clinics

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A coronavirus vaccine dose mistakenly administered to an underage person at an Anchorage clinic has prompted a site review and altered some practices for the healthcare company tasked with operating the facilities, according to state health officials.

While everyone 16 or older is eligible for inoculation, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people under age 18, the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

The other two vaccines available in the U.S. created by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have only been approved for use by those 18 or older.

The 16-year-old in Alaska was given the Moderna vaccine in March at a drive-thru inoculation site, the newspaper reported.

The mistake forced the company contracted by the municipality to run its coronavirus vaccine clinics, Visit Healthcare, to add notes on its website and appointment emails that Moderna’s vaccine is only for those 18 or older, the newspaper reported, citing a Visit Healthcare spokesperson.

Heather Arrono, a spokesperson with Anchorage's Office of Emergency Management, said the city was "aware of the incident, and has raised the issue with Visit Healthcare.” Arrono added that the incident resulted in a site review and safety check.

Dr. Bruce Chandler, a medical officer with the Anchorage Health Department, said while the vaccine provider made an error, the health risk level for the teen to suffer problems after receiving the vaccine was likely low.

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that anyone who is 16- or 17-years-old and accidentally receives a vaccine dose should receive their second, Chandler said. But, anyone under 16 should not receive their second dose, he said.

Pfizer's vaccine had been approved for use in 16- and 17-year-olds because the company included that age range in its clinical trials.

Moderna recently began two separate studies that will test its vaccine in children under 12 and another study in people ages 12 to 17. The company has said it could have results for the older age group by the summer.

"We're not aware of any adverse effects so far from those studies," Chandler said.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, breathing trouble, sore throat, muscle pain and loss of taste or smell. Most people develop only mild symptoms.

But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia. Sometimes people with a coronavirus infection display no symptoms.

The Associated Press