Did some in Shelby County receive expired vaccine? Doctor says don’t worry

Alonzo Osche

Threlkeld: “The vaccine should be safe if it was expired.”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some are wondering if the Shelby County Health Department gave them expired vaccine, and more importantly, what that means.

The Shelby County Health Department’s handling of COVID-19 vaccinations is leaving a lot of people with a lot of questions.

One of them was a teacher who emailed WREG after getting the vaccine on Feb. 17, and is now worried after learning the Shelby County Health Department let a lot of vaccine doses expire.

“… It still left me with an uneasy feeling about what was injected in my arm … I just want to know if what I received was an expired vaccine?” the teacher wrote.

The state is investigating, but made it clear last week that there were issues with how the vaccine was handled, even down to keeping it at the right temperature, from the factory to the vaccination site. 

We asked Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, who has been on the front line of COVID vaccinations at Baptist Hospital, about the risk that comes with getting a dose that has expired.

“If it was a slightly expired vaccine, I would think two issues: Number 1 is safety. I think essentially there would be no idea of any decrease in safety of that vaccine. The vaccine should be safe if it was expired,” Threlkeld said.

But there is also the question of its effectiveness.

“We don’t have any clear indication that a vaccine that was slightly expired would not be as effective as one that was given before that expiration. But that will be something people will undoubtedly look at,” he said.

But for many, the concern is the uncertainty of it all.

“I just need to know what I have allowed to be injected into my body and will it have an effect on my body?  I initially was trusting and readily volunteered to take the vaccine,” the teacher wrote. “Waiting to see the outcome of the SCHD investigation has started me to not trust the ones in charge of issuing the vaccines.”

Threkeld admits it may require at the most a new first dose, but overall, he said the bottom line is that there is no reason to be afraid for your safety.

The Tennessee state health department isn’t saying what they are doing in light of the chance some people got the expired vaccine. They say they plan to have another news  conference Tuesday to discuss the latest.

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