Authorities announced that dozens of inmates at an Iowa prison were given overdoses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, at least 77 inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison received shots that contained six times the recommended dosage.
Cord Overton, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections, said in a statement to The Hill that the inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary were given doses of the vaccine that exceeded the recommended dose.
He said that upon learning of the error, the department contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pfizer for guidance, and the affected inmates are being monitored by medical staff.
He added that none of the inmates at the maximum-security prison for men became sick to the point where they needed outside medical care.
“At this time, the only side effects experienced by the inmates are those commonly associated with the Pfizer vaccine,” he said. “These include sore arm, body aches, and one inmate has experienced a low-grade fever which was treatable with Tylenol. No inmates have required hospitalization.”
Vaccine distribution at the prison has since been halted, Overton said, and two nursing staff employees who allegedly administered the vaccines were placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
The Hill has reached out to the Department of Corrections, Pfizer, and the CDC for comment.
Two medical staff members from the Iowa Department of Corrections incorrectly administered the vaccine — developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech — to 77 inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison for men located in Fort Madison, about 90 miles southeast of Iowa City. The dosages given exceeded the amount recommended by the vaccine manufacturer, according to Cord Overton, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Corrections.
Upon learning of the error, the Iowa Department of Corrections immediately contacted Pfizer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance. Both Pfizer and the CDC said not to expect any major side effects but that the affected inmates should be closely monitored for at least 48 hours, according to Overton.
ABC News has reached out to Pfizer, BioNTech, and the CDC for comment.
The affected inmates have been notified of the error and are being closely monitored by medical staff. The Iowa Department of Corrections plans to conduct medical wellness check-ups routinely for several days. So far, the only side effects that the inmates have experienced are those commonly associated with the Pfizer vaccine, Overton said.
Dosing errors involving the Pfizer vaccine had been “rare,” according to Jaimie Meyer, an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine. She said that medical care at prisons presented particular problems because of inadequate staffing.
“When there’s a single nurse practitioner who’s meant to take care of a thousand patients, they often don’t have the same levels of support that you would elsewhere,” Dr. Meyer said.
According to the Corrections Department, nurses had been told to follow the instructions on the medication when preparing the doses and to consult a statement on proper procedures from the manufacturer.
Watch it here: KCCI News/Youtube