Care New England, Lifespan confirm extra doses found in Pfizer vaccine vials

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hospitals around the country are finding that vials containing Pfizer’s vaccine have more doses inside than expected.

Both Lifespan and Care New England confirmed Thursday they were able to get more than the five doses intended.

Robin Neale, vice president for Quality, Clinical Effectiveness and Infection Prevention at Care New England, said the hospital group learned of the potential for extra doses Sunday while on a call with Pfizer.

“Pfizer did inform us at that time, that upon reconstitution of the vial, that there would be extra doses, up to two extra doses in the vial, really dependent on the syringes that you use,” Neale said.

“When you use a syringe, there’s a certain amount of dead space that’s left with medication that doesn’t get delivered, and so depending on the brand of needle that you use, there are extra doses in there,” she continued.

On Tuesday, Care New England received its first doses of the vaccine, which were administered at Kent Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital. In the initial delivery, there were 195 vials of five doses each, or 975 doses per hospital.

Neale said Kent, Women & Infants and Butler hospitals are all scheduled to receive 4,950 initial total doses, which includes vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna.

Moderna’s vaccine is undergoing federal review and could be given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as soon as this weekend.

“As soon as we started to administer on Tuesday afternoon, we realized that indeed we would be able to get that sixth dose, so it was pretty exciting,” Neale said.

With the extra dose per vial, that means there are now 1,170 total first doses at both Kent and Woman & Infants, or nearly 200 extra doses per hospital.

“It’s an early holiday gift. We are really pleased to be able to have those extra doses, our healthcare workers are signing up rapidly to get vaccine,” Neale said.

In a tweet from the FDA Wednesday night, the agency said it was aware “some vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine have contained extra product after five doses are obtained.”

“At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue,” the agency wrote.

The FDA noted that, since vials of Pfizer’s vaccine are preservative-free, “it is critical to note that any further remaining product that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one.”

The agency also said it was working with Pfizer to determine the best path forward, and that additional updates were forthcoming.

Lifespan also confirmed it has found there are one to two extra doses per vial.

Accounting for just one extra dose per vial, Lifespan tells 12 News that would mean an additional 585 doses to immunize staff.

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