A Loudoun County pharmacy was ordered to stop administering coronavirus vaccine shots after it incorrectly gave 5-to-11-year-olds formulations designed for older kids and adults, the Virginia Department of Health said this week.

Ted Pharmacy in Aldie administered the shots to 112 children on Nov. 3 and 4, officials said, giving them vaccine formulas designed for older children or adults but in smaller amounts.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one so far authorized in the U.S. for children under 12, is supposed be given to them at one-third of the dosage given to adolescents, teenagers and adults.

“Because they did not have the children’s formulation they used the adult formulation but only gave a third of the amount to the children,” David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, said Thursday. “Our understanding from Ted Pharmacy is they were trying to do a workaround, which is not authorized.”

The problem with the workaround, Goodfriend said, is that when the volume of vaccine given is reduced, it becomes difficult to ensure it’s the correct amount.

“If it doesn’t all go in, or if goes into the body but doesn’t go into the muscle, or you didn’t draw it up exactly to the 0.1 milliliter line, there’s a chance you might get too little vaccine,” he said. “There’s also a chance it could have given too much.”

Goodfriend said it’s unlikely a child would have been harmed by receiving too much of the vaccine, but it’s possible children were under-vaccinated if they received too little.

The issue was discovered Nov. 4, Goodfriend said. “It was a good observant parent, as I understand it, that brought it to the Virginia Department of Health’s attention.”

The parent noticed a vial’s color, Goodfriend said. The young children’s dosage comes in a vial with an orange cap, while doses for those 12 and older come in vials with purple caps or purple bordered labels.

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