The father of an 8-year-old boy said his child was vaccinated at a Dallas County site in what’s being called an ‘oversight’ and ‘human error” by officials.
Chief Robert Fite of the Grand Prairie Fire Department said some 3,800 people were vaccinated the day the boy came through the drive-up site.
People have been registering in Dallas County for the COVID-19 vaccine for months, entering information through an online form.
“If they got a QR code, part of our assumption is they understand who should be registered and who should not,” Fite said.
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But the boy’s father says he did not understand; he was able to register his 8-year-old son and got an appointment at a Dallas County site operated by first responders in Grand Prairie.
Pediatrician Marcial Oquendo said the boy's father thought it was OK to get his child vaccinated because he was able to register and was given a QR code.
“He was under the assumption that, 'I submit his information and he got an appointment,'” said Oquendo. “And when he got an appointment, he was like, ‘we all got an appointment so let’s go.’”
It was only after talking to Oquendo that the boy's father realized a mistake had been made.
“We don’t have the data, especially under the age of 12 to say if it works, is it safe, how much should we use, which kid can get it and which kids can’t,” said Oquendo. “It needs to be in a controlled setting of a clinical trial where we are monitoring every possible angle to be able to say if it’s safe and effective to use in kids in this age group.”
Fite confirmed the boy was given the vaccine and plans to track down the paramedic who administered the shot and gather more information about how the mistake was made.
“They’re in the car, there’s a code, the paramedic did what that paramedic did for thousands of others for that day and went ahead and gave the vaccination, and did not realize it was a child under the age of 18,” said Fite.
While Fite plans to investigate on his end, he said they’re operating under the authority of Dallas County, and he’s looking for answers from county officials as well.
“We had some questions about how a child under 18 could even get registered,” he said. “If there was a fail system in place, then we wouldn’t even have to worry because you couldn’t get registered.”
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
Oquendo said he’s notified the Pediatric Society and Dallas County Medical Society about the case and hopes for changes in the registration process.
“We’re still trying to figure out what to do next,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out who needs to know what.”
Moderna has begun clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine on children under the age of 12. However, the vaccine has only been authorized for Americans 18 years of age and older.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins confirms the boy’s father signed him up for a vaccine through the Dallas County website. He said human error allowed the boy’s age to go unnoticed.
“He was put in the suspended ineligible list. There was human error, and that list was moved over to get the people who were under 50 onto the eligible list. They failed to scrub for people who were under 18,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins said conversations are underway on how to avoid the error moving forward.
“We’ve got our IT department working with the third-party company to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, see if it can be fully automated,” said Jenkins. “We’ve got more training for our medics, so they know if they see a person who does not appear to be old enough for that vaccine that they understand that we don’t give vaccine to anyone under the age of 16, or anyone under the age of 18 if it’s Johnson & Johnson or Moderna.”
For more information on vaccine eligibility visit https://www.cdc.gov/