Vaccine Distribution Halted in Boone County, WV
As of December 2020, the Boone County Health Department is prohibited from receiving and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. The bar is related to a December 31 incident where Boone County residents mistakenly receive COVID-19 antibodies instead of the vaccine.
Mistake Made by Boone County, WV Health Department
According to a news release from the Boone County Health Department, 44 people received COVID-19 antibodies when they should have been given the vaccine.
Residents who received the antibodies at a County Health Department-run clinic were notified of the error and properly vaccinated the next day. Health department officials maintain that there is no risk of harm to those given the antibodies and that the incident was isolated.
State Action to Halt Vaccine Distribution
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has halted vaccine distribution by Boone County Health Department until a full evaluation can occur. DHHR will conduct a full clinical monitoring visit, after which the County Health Department should be able to resume vaccine distribution.
Officials from Boone County Health Department picked up what they presumed was a vaccine shipment from the West Virginia National Guard in Charleston on December 30, 2020. It is unclear how the shipment of antibodies was mistaken for a shipment of vaccinations.
Where can Boone County Residents Receive the Vaccine?
According to a statement from the state DHHR, vaccines will be available to Boone County Residents via partners like the Federally Qualified Healthcare Center, Madison Medical and through community vaccination events.
West Virginia’s Approach to COVID Vaccinations
The state declined to participate in the federal government’s vaccination program, which used CVS and Walgreens as vaccination sites for staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Instead, West Virginia’s vaccine distribution program utilizes health departments and local pharmacies.
West Virginia also became the first state in the nation to provide vaccines to all skilled nursing facilities before the end of 2020. First responders and health care workers statewide have already received the vaccine. Teachers, school staffers, and those over the age of 50 are next in line to receive the vaccine across the state.
On a positive note, West Virginia is ahead of most states in vaccine distribution.
Administering the Wrong Injection
The error allegedly occurred during the delivery process of a Regeneron shipment to a distribution hub. Regeneron vials were placed alongside the Moderna vaccine vials, leading to workers accidentally including Regeneron in the Boone County vaccine shipments.
Both the Moderna vaccine and the Regeneron antibodies were clearly labeled, as were the boxes that contained each product. So, why was the wrong medicine administered 42 times?
The 42 people who received Regeneron were directly injected with antibodies intended to help those already infected with COVID-19. Regeneron is meant to be administered through intravenous infusion, not direct injection.
While no immediate harm has been reported, both the vaccine and the antibody treatment are new, and the long-term effects of both are unknown.
Regeneron testing was halted late last October due to safety concerns. A committee recommended Regeneron stop administering the treatment to patients needing high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
The company stated that four patients experienced reactions to the Regeneron during clinical trials but did not disclose the nature of the reactions.
While Regeneron trials have generated some positive results, the full benefit of antibody treatments is still murky. The treatment is experimental, and little is known about the potential side effects.
How West Virginia Defines Medical Malpractice
Those involved in the distribution of the vaccine are overworked and busy, but that does not justify medical negligence. The West Virginia Code, §55-7B-1, states that citizens of West Virginia are entitled to the standard of medical care available. West Virginia’s medical malpractice statute also provides that when a doctor, hospital, or medical provider breaks the standard of case and someone gets injured or dies as a result, that medical provider may be held liable as a result.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States. With a strained medical system, the number of errors could climb. Those who received antibody injections instead of the COVID-19 vaccine suffered a medical error. However, it’s not yet clear if those people suffered an injury significant enough to justify a West Virginia medical malpractice case. Each of their claims and potential injuries would likely need to be evaluated independently before a determination could be made.
Free Case Evaluation from a West Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in West Virginia because of medical negligence, including due to the wrong antibody injections mentioned above, we invite you to call West Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation. Our toll free number is (877) 943-9378 (WEST), and there’s never a fee unless you recover compensation.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.