On Saturday, Denise Iserloth took her two sons, 8 and 11 years old, to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
A few hours later, the older boy lost his balance and fell twice. Both boys complained of abdominal pain and nausea.
Iserloth soon learned why.
Sutter Health Clinic in Antioch has given her sons a double dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children their age.
Twelve other children also received a double dose.
Health professionals have assured Iserlot that the short-term effects will disappear in a few days, and the long-term risks are likely to be minimal.
But this does little to comfort the mother, who already objected so strongly to vaccinating her children.
“I was furious when they called me that it happened,” Iserlot said. “I cried every day. I cannot eat and I cannot sleep. “
California began vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 this month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccinations for this age group.
Iserloth, 38, from Oakley, worried about side effects and a family history of allergic reactions, but wanted her sons to be able to attend school as statewide student vaccination requirements slowly take effect.
She also wanted them to be fully vaccinated for future family travel.
“I tried to be proactive, although I was not ready to vaccinate them,” Iserlot said. “Because I know we failed them in distance learning, so I quietly vaccinated them. I decided to vaccinate both of them at the same time on one trip to the clinic. Then the clinic failed miserably. “
In a statement, Sutter Health pediatrician and chair of the COVID-19 vaccination task force, Dr. Jimmy Hu, said 14 children “received vaccines with the wrong amount of diluent.”
Children aged 5 to 11 receive a lower dose than older age groups, so a diluent is added to the injections they receive on a two-dose regimen.
Instead of 10 micrograms of messenger RNA, 14 children received about 20 micrograms, according to Sutter Health.
“As soon as we found out about this, we contacted the parents and advised them on the CDC’s recommendations in this situation,” Hu said in a statement. “The safety of our patients is our top priority and we immediately redefined our processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious disease specialist at Keck Medicine at USC, said Sutter Health’s mistake is not perfect, but neither is it a major concern.
However, it could create the misconception that vaccines are unsafe for children when the risks of not being vaccinated are much more serious, he said.
“In general, they are very safe, and the increased dose, in this case by mistake, if it causes any problems, it will be due to the injection of the vaccine,” he said. “Like any vaccine we give as children, they can cause fever, flu, and other side effects.”
Iserlot said Sutter Health did not elaborate on how the mistake was made and what her family can expect next.
“Every pediatrician tells me that they expect my children to be okay, but there are no guarantees,” Iserlot said. “I have a huge fault for my mother.”
By Tuesday evening, her children were feeling slightly better, although she had to pick up her 11-year-old from school before he felt nauseous.
She is certain of one thing: her children will not receive the second doses of the vaccine until her questions are answered, she said.