AHS notifying clients of potential vaccine administration concern (Lethbridge)

May 17, 2021

SOUTH ZONE – Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be notifying 10 clients who received their Pfizer COVID-19 immunization at the Lethbridge Exhibition on April 29 that the vaccine provided to them was potentially ineffective, as only the saline water diluent, and not the actual vaccine, was administered to five of these individuals.

After a careful review, it was determined that five individuals who received their vaccine during a specific period of time when 10 individuals were immunized only received saline in their immunization. Out of an abundance of caution, AHS will be directly contacting all 10 potentially impacted individuals to rebook their immunization appointment.

Only those individuals contacted directly by AHS are considered impacted by this issue. Though there is no impact on general public, we are informing the public of this case and our follow-up actions as a matter of transparency.

During a routine audit at the end of the day on April 29, an unused vial of vaccine was found. An investigation involving interviews with staff, and a robust review of vaccine logs and electronic documentation was conducted to determine how the discrepancy could have occurred.

Diluent is part of the final vaccine product and is administered as part of the shot. Manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine provide vaccine and diluent in separate vials which are mixed together by the healthcare provider prior to administering the final vaccine product. There are no anticipated health effects from providing the saline to these impacted individuals. However, the saline solution itself does not provide protection against the COVID-19 virus.

Research is ongoing on the benefits and added protection that providing a third, or booster vaccine would provide. Providing a third dose of vaccine to these five individuals is not anticipated to cause any ill effects.

All impacted individuals will be provided their repeat dose on, or after the 21 day mark from their first dose to help ensure vaccine efficacy and reduce any potential for side effects.

AHS regrets that this issue has resulted in an impact to our patients and we have ensured that enhanced processes are now in place.

To protect patient privacy and confidentiality, AHS will not be providing any further detail relating to the patients impacted. Anyone with questions can call Health Link 24/7 at 811.