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Investigators: What if the state says you received expired COVID-19 vaccine dose?

The state is still investigating
Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:18 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There is no confirmation that anyone in Shelby County received an expired COVID-19 vaccine dose. The Tennessee Department of Health said Friday that it’s investigating that possibility.

However, WMC Action News 5 viewers are worried they may have received an expired dose and what that would mean.

Related | Timeline of Shelby County vaccine concerns

Baptist Hospital’s infectious disease specialist told the WMC Action News 5 Investigators Monday that receiving an expired vaccine is unlikely dangerous.

“It is likely to be perfectly safe,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld. “There isn’t likely to be any danger or side effect of getting a slightly expired vaccine.

Threlkeld said the question is more so how effective the vaccine will be?

Related | State investigating if Shelby County residents received expired COVID-19 vaccine doses

“We can’t really comment on when that efficacy curve goes down. It may be on the date of expiration, it goes down dramatically. It could be that maybe it doesn’t really go down much at all,” said Threlkeld.

We asked if an antibody test would let you know if your vaccine worked.

Threlkeld said it’s possible but it’s still unclear how long antibodies will protect you from COVID-19.

He also said you cannot judge the effectiveness of your dose by the side effects you feel because everyone reacts differently.

“There is a such a bell curve in what happens,” he said. “I had essentially no side effects to my vaccine - first or second. I know plenty of people who had fairly roaring side effects.”

Threlkeld said the storage requirements for the vaccines are changing so it is possible that some of the ‘expired’ vaccines found in Shelby County actually weren’t expired at all. Pfizer has learned that their vaccine does not need to remain in cold storage as long as previously thought.

“So every vaccine that we throw away or don’t give to someone, that is a single human life that would have been completely protected from critical illness or death from this infection,” said Threlkeld.

Threlkeld said it is possible that even the expiration dates on the vaccines will change as more studies show their efficacy and how long they can last outside of cold storage.

Read more COVID-19 vaccine coverage here

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