State reports 81 Jones Beach vaccine doses from Feb. 15 deemed ineffective

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State health officials deemed 81 coronavirus vaccine doses ineffective after a staffer put a hand warmer in a cooler carrying syringes. (Photo courtesy of metrocreativeconnection.com)

More than 80 coronavirus vaccines shot into the arms of New Yorkers at Jones Beach on Feb. 15 were deemed “ineffective” by the state’s Department of Health.

State officials said a staff member at the Jones Beach facility put a hand warmer into a cooler that was carrying syringes, and those who received inoculations there on Feb. 15 are required to go back and be vaccinated again. According to Health Department statistics, 6 percent of people who got vaccinated at Jones Beach on Feb. 15 did not receive an effective dose.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman, Jack Sterna, said the staff member, whose name was not disclosed, was transporting syringes carrying the vaccine from an on-site pharmacy to inoculation tents when he noticed the temperature was lowering. In an effort to prevent the temperature from decreasing, the staffer added the hand warmer, something that does not follow protocol.

“New Yorkers’ health and safety is our top priority, and due to this vaccine’s very specific temperature sensitivity, we have a process in place to identify if any temperature excursions occur,” a state spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “This process worked, allowing us to quickly pinpoint this issue, identify the extremely small number of individuals impacted, and immediately begin taking action.”

State officials emphasized that there were no health risks to those who received the ineffective 81 doses.  State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the people who received ineffective doses were contacted and will be rescheduled to be vaccinated.

Cuomo announced on Tuesday that the 10th week of vaccine allocations from the federal government was delayed due to the winter storms, and those deliveries continued to roll in at the beginning of the week.  Cuomo said approximately 10 million New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, and can use a doctor’s letter, medical information, or a signed certification for proof of eligibility to local vaccination officials.

“Supply from the federal government is increasing steadily every week, but the demand still far outweighs the supply,” Cuomo said. “We already have the infrastructure in place to administer shots as quickly as possible once we get them, and we are continuing to focus on vaccine equity by working with local leaders in our most vulnerable communities to educate more New Yorkers about the safety of the vaccine and encourage them to sign up for an appointment to get vaccinated.”

On Long Island, more than 428,000 vaccinations had been administered out of the 486,000 received, or 88 percent, according to state figures. Throughout New York, the state had received nearly 3.9 million vaccine doses and administered nearly 3.5 million, or 89 percent, of first and second doses.

In Nassau County, 127,607 residents had received the completed series of vaccinations, with nearly 220,000 receiving at least one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday, according to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. She touted the ongoing efforts of residents combating the virus, but emphasized being vigilant for new strains such as the South African variant, which two people in the county have tested positive for.

“The County is taking seriously the emergence of more contagious variants, but we know that taking the recommended precautions will keep you safe from all strains of the virus,” Curran said. “Confirmation of another case of the South African variant here in Nassau underscores the importance of continuing to wear masks, distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”

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