Embry Women’s Health, a valley health group, is accused of administering hundreds of expired vaccines according to the state health department.
Throughout the pandemic, Embry Women’s Health has been an intricate partner within Arizona in terms of administering both COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccines, but the Arizona state health department has now banned them from ordering any more vaccines after records show they gave out nearly 400 expired doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
A letter dated May 28th sent from the Arizona State Health department to Embry Women’s Health claims the clinic made many missteps, including administering 370 doses of expired vaccine, allowing staff that aren’t permitted to give the shots, and failing to properly document storing, handling, and administration of the vaccine.
The letter required Embry Health to submit a plan in writing by June 1 for upcoming vaccine events, but as of Wednesday, June 9, the health department is still waiting on the documentation.
What exactly is the danger if a patient receives an expired vaccine? “It’s probably not going to be a big risk because just to be on the safe side they’re making sure the expiration dates are much sooner than they would ever expire,” said family medicine doctor Andrew Carroll. Experts do agree that even though the risk is low, expired vaccines should always be thrown out.
Embry Health is defending their actions and do not believe they actually gave any expired vaccines.
The organization is conducting an audit to check the data, but they believe it was a discrepancy where data was put in a day or more after a vaccine dose was actually given.
They believe it comes down to an accounting issue, which their spokesperson said has since been corrected.
Health experts believe proper recording is very important. If the proper date is not in the state system, patients will not be able to confirm if it’s been 21 or 28 days since their last vaccine, so it’s important the correct date is in.
During this time, the health department assures they will have staff on hand to make sure Embry Health distributes the rest of its Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply properly. There is no set date on when the clinic will be allowed to order the Moderna vaccine again.
Embry Women’s Health is working closely with the during this time and Embry is analyzing how they can modify their operations.
Read the media statement from Embry Healthcare:
As the guardians of public health and trust, we sincerely appreciate the conscientious approach the Arizona Department of Health Services has taken with us, and all. Our company scaled up rapidly to meet the desperate need in Arizona for testing and vaccinations. We are proud of the life changing work of our now nearly 1,000 employee company. Lives have been saved as a result. Any business that expands quickly can have growing pains. We are no exception. That’s why we appreciate Dr. Christ and her team identifying ways we can improve to better serve our state. We are in active discussions with DHS to modify operations where they think proper and best. Recent inspections have shown no issues with our care or the disbursement of expired vaccines. We are doing everything in our power to continue to audit our practices to uphold the quality of care our family business was built upon. To the extent any issues now remain, we are devoting all possible resources and expertise to resolve these matters with DHS so we can get on doing what we have done effectively since the onset of the pandemic: aid hundreds of thousands of Arizonans.
Joellen Embry, Medical Director