FRANKLIN – A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in a central Indiana county already thawed prompted officials to briefly offer the shots to people not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The Johnson County Health Department and Johnson Memorial Hospital received 957 already thawed Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines late last week. Officials had to act fast because that vaccine can be stored thawed for only up to five days under U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance.
The suburban Indianapolis county's health department briefly opened the vaccine to the general public. While the vaccine eligibility was widened, the goal remained to vaccinate those most at risk, department director Betsy Swearingen said.
The vaccines were administered Thursday through Saturday, within the window recommended by the FDA and the manufacturer, Swearingen told the Daily Journal in Franklin.
Currently, under state guidelines, the only Hoosiers eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine are first responders, health care workers and individuals age 70 and older.
Some individuals not meeting those guidelines or not at increased risk from COVID-19 received the vaccines.
Swearingen said her department doesn't have statistics about how many such people received vaccines.
However, she said most of the thawed vaccines were given to people age 50 and older and those with medical conditions that put them at risk for a poor outcome if they contract COVID-19.