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Risk Matters: COVID-19 Vaccines

Ever since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of specific formulation (10 mcg/0.2 ml) of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years, reports of mix-ups with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine formulation intended for individuals 12 years and older (30 mcg/0.3 ml) have been pouring in.[1]  For example, in December, a Tennessee mother was interviewed by a Nashville television news station because her 11-year-old child erroneously received the adult dosage of the Pfizer vaccine at a chain drug store.[2]  She cautioned other parents to be on the lookout for potential COVID-19 vaccine errors and had filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy.  Of note, the mother in the story is a pharmacist.  It is unknown what, if any, effect receiving the wrong vaccine/dosage will have on children, but practitioners should take precautions and have a protocol in place to avoid this type of mix-up.  Although the Pfizer vaccine vials are similar, the vaccine vial for children ages 5 to 11 has an orange cap, and the vaccine vial for older patients has a purple cap.


[1] Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) - National Alert Network (NAN), Dec. 6, 2021

[2] Child receives adult-sized COVID-19 vaccine by mistake (

About The Author

Jeffrey A. Woods is the Director of Risk Education in the Risk Education and Evaluation Services Department at SVMIC. Jeff received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee Martin and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Following graduation, he practiced law in Knoxville for almost 15 years, advising physicians and healthcare providers and defending them in malpractice claims. He is licensed to practice in Tennessee and all Federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Jeff joined SVMIC in 2003 and was a Senior Claims Attorney until 2015 when he transferred to his current position.

The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.

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