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Expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine administered at Burnaby Save-On-Foods

Last Updated Apr 9, 2021 at 6:21 pm PDT

Summary

Save-On-Foods says 10 people were given AstraZeneca shots three days after the expiry date

Infectious diseases expert says vaccine likely still effective, despite it being administered days after expiry

Save-On-Foods apologizes, says it has contacted health authorities for guidance

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Save-On-Foods is apologizing after 10 customers received expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots at one of its pharmacies in Burnaby.

The vaccines were administered on Monday, three days after the expiry date.

An infectious diseases expert says while this may be alarming, given the existing questions around AstraZeneca, the people who received this shot are probably safe and still getting protection.

“In general the expiration date doesn’t mean that if you don’t use it by that specific day, it’s going bad,” said Horacio Bach, adjunct professor with UBC’s Infectious Diseases Division of the Faculty of Medicine.

For example, Bach says some antibiotics have been tested as many as 30 years after their expiry dates and they were still found to be effective.

“In my opinion, it’s not going to have an impact on the vaccine because it’s only three days. As long as you keep it in the right conditions,” he said.

Bach points to perishable foods as an example.

“Sometimes I forget about my yogurt and I’m [eating it] a week after, and it’s no problem because it’s in the fridge … So, assuming that the conditions were maintained, according to the instruction of the manufacturer, I don’t think that would be a problem after three days,” he explained.

But he says the local health authorities should follow up with the people who received the expired AstraZeneca shot, to make sure they develop the antibodies as would normally be expected.

“Or they may be a third dose, I don’t know. But I would make sure that these people are not a concern,” he said.

A statement from the Ministry of Health says incidents like this should be reported to the local health authority for advice.

It adds: “In general, those who receive an expired vaccine should be advised, and recommended revaccination.”

In a statement to NEWS 1130, Save-On-Foods doesn’t reveal how this happened but says steps have been taken to make sure this is an isolated incident. It adds it has contacted health officials for their guidance on how to continue vaccination of the affected customers to make sure they are protected.

“As soon as we discovered the error, we immediately began contacting the impacted clients and making the appropriate disclosures and reports to the professional bodies. Navigating through this pandemic is stressful in itself and we have sincerely apologized to these customers who were impacted,” the statement read.

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Bach says this was likely unintentional.

“We’re humans. We make mistakes,” he said.

Pharmacies across the Lower Mainland are taking bookings for people age 55 to 65 for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The AstraZeneca doses were originally slated to be given to priority workers, such as K-12 teachers, grocery store workers, and postal workers. However, B.C. put a pause on that program on the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which said there was a risk of rare blood clots for people under the age of 55.