Information About Vaccines

Press Release

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2014

Call our hotline(877) 707-4442

Hartford HealthCare Medical Group recently discovered that 5,003 doses of vaccines given from Jan. 1, 2013 to the present to 3,833 patients at its locations in Enfield, South Main/West Hartford, Storrs and Unionville may not have been stored in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommended temperature guidelines.

Patients and family members may call our hotline at (877) 707-4442. It is staffed by qualified clinicians who can answer patient questions related to this issue and can arrange for patients to have follow-up calls with providers.

Slight fluctuations in storage temperature are expected. However, Hartford HealthCare Medical Group believes that the temperatures at issue may have been out of range long enough to reduce the effectiveness of these vaccine doses. Two-thirds of the vaccines in question were influenza, pneumonia, and the family of tetanus/pertussis vaccines. The remaining doses were a range of vaccines commonly administered in physician offices. No other Hartford HealthCare Medical Group locations have had temperature-control issues.

Although the potentially ineffective vaccine will not cause harm to patients, we are likely to recommend that patients be revaccinated to be fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Hartford HealthCare Medical Group is reaching out to every patient who received an ineffective vaccine to answer questions and offer appointments to receive the appropriate vaccination, if indicated, at no charge to patients.

We are asking patients to contact their primary care providers for further information.

We also will be sharing information at the following site:

Safety is one of our most important values at Hartford HealthCare.

Since learning of the incident, Hartford HealthCare Medical Group has assessed the effectiveness of all of its refrigeration storage units and will continue to monitor such units to make sure that all vaccines are being properly stored.

Hartford HealthCare Medical Group Vaccine FAQs:

  • What happened to make the vaccine doses ineffective?
    We discovered that refrigerators used for vaccine storage in our Enfield, South Main/West Hartford, Storrs and Unionville office locations were not functioning effectively. As a result, some vaccine doses may not have been stored in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommended temperature guidelines, making the doses ineffective.
  • How many patients are affected?
    We have determined that, from Jan. 1, 2013 to the present, 5,003 less-than-effective vaccine doses were given to 3,833 patients. We are reaching out to each of these patients.
  • What kinds of vaccine are involved?
    Two-thirds of the vaccines in question were influenza, pneumonia and the family of tetanus/pertussis vaccines. The remaining doses were a range of vaccines commonly administered in physician offices.
  • How did this happen?
    We have determined that there were lapses in following the rigorous processes we have in place to monitor vaccine-storage refrigerators. This occurred in four of our locations. We have thoroughly addressed this issue and are confident that we will have 100-percent compliance with our guidelines going forward. In addition, we have assured that vaccines provided at all of our other locations were appropriately monitored and were effective.
  • How do I know that I have not contracted a vaccine-preventable disease?
    Childhood illnesses such as varicella, measles, mumps and rubella occur rarely in the United States today and have very distinct clinical pictures. Vaccines for meningitis, hepatitis and HPV (human papilloma virus) are given for diseases that can arise as we enter our late teens and early twenties. Thorough chart reviews are under way, no evidence of vaccine-preventable disease has been found to date.
  • Are there are tests to determine whether my child or I are currently protected?
    A blood test can be done for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and varicella (in patients who were vaccinated and have not had chickenpox), but the CDC recommends revaccination as the appropriate course of action.
  • Why should I get revaccinated?
    Some vaccinations often are given for public health reasons. If there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of the previous vaccine, you or your child may need to be revaccinated. Some vaccinations offer long-term protection against infections that can cause serious problems. These include vaccinations for meningitis, hepatitis and HPV (human papilloma virus). Vaccines for childhood illness such as polio, measles, mumps and rubella also are important to ensure that children are protected against these diseases.
  • Is it possible for me or my child to receive too much vaccine?
    No. For many vaccine-preventable diseases such as tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B or meningitis, we commonly receive booster shots as we age, travel or have exposures. For flu vaccinations, we need to receive the shot yearly throughout our lives. With revaccination or boosters, there may be increased local reactions at the site of injection, similar to what we would experience as adults when we get the booster shots. The protective benefits of vaccination outweigh the small risks with any vaccine.
  • Should I get re-vaccinated for “flu”?
    No. Because flu season is over and there is little flu currently infecting residents of Connecticut, there would be no reason to revaccinate against influenza at this time. However, flu vaccination is needed yearly, and we will be offering a free flu vaccination next season to patients affected and this will be noted in your file. Flu vaccinations typically are given after October 1, 2014.
  • How can I get revaccinated?
    Contact your primary care physician at Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. You can also use our special hotline – (877) 707-4442 – to get more information and to get an appointment for revaccination.
  • May I be compensated for the inconvenience or the trouble this has caused me?
    You will not be charged for any revisits or vaccinations. While there will not be extra compensation, if you cannot come into one of our offices, we will arrange for a home health nurse to come to your home to administer the vaccine.