On November 9, 2021, a 6-year-old at Dowell Elementary School received a COVID 19 vaccine they weren’t supposed to receive. According to officials, the student had the same first and last name as another student, but different birthdates. The one given the vaccine did not have parental consent to give the vaccine while the other same-named student did.

The following letter was released by Dr. Larry Polsky, Calvert County Health Officer:

This week, the Calvert County Health Department has been providing Covid vaccines to students in our county’s schools. 

The Health Department has teamed with Calvert County Public Schools to provide influenza vaccinations for well over a decade. During that time, protocols have been in place to best assure that students who are consented by their parents to receive vaccination receive appropriate and safe care. For the first time in well over 15,000 vaccinations, a student who was not consented by their parents inadvertently received a vaccination. That student is doing well, and parents were immediately notified once the error was recognized.

For all of our community’s parents who have trusted the Calvert Health Department over the years, I want to reassure you that all of our staff, including me, take any error extremely seriously and have already taken steps to best ensure that this never happens again. We clearly recognize the responsibility we have to your children and to you to deliver safe and appropriate care. There is nothing more important to us than keeping the children of our county safe.

In addition to the existing verification protocols that have, up until this week, prevented any incidents of mistaken identity over many years, the health department and the school system have added two new measures. To supplement the identification checks that have been in place before children walk from their classrooms to the vaccination room, each teacher will do a final verification that the names on the vaccination list match both the child and the individual name tags. There are two layers of child verification in the vaccination room. 

Historically, if there was any discrepancy in the verification process or for any reason the nurses had reason to be concerned, they would call the child’s parent to assure the vaccination was appropriate. If the parent could not be reached for verification, the child was sent back to class unvaccinated, and a note was sent home explaining why the vaccination was not given.

Going forward, in addition to speaking to the parent, we will have the parent speak directly to the child with the nurse listening on the speaker to absolutely be certain that the parent and child match. This may be done through video such as FaceTime or additional information will be obtained, such as a nickname that only the child’s parents would know.

On behalf of the nurses at our health department and the school system, we terribly regret the occurrence this week. In my conversations with nurses, they were visibly upset that such a thing could happen. Although the vaccinated childisdoingfine,werealizethatanymistakeinhealthsettingscanhavedetrimentalconsequences.Itisourobligation to you and your children to do better in the future. We are taking steps to do that. Your trust means everything tous.


Dr. Larry Polsky, Calvert County Health Officer

According to officials the child is doing well and is continuing to be watched.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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