‘Shots For Tots’ Clinic Closed: Babies Given Gardasil, FluMist, And Expired Vaccines

Salem County-sponsored "Shots for Tots" clinic gives one year old flumist.

A free clinic offering “Shots for Tots” and operated by the Salem County Health Department has been shut down after an audit revealed that at least five South Jersey children were believed to have been given the wrong immunizations. The free clinic operated by the health department was located at Memorial Hospital of Salem County in Mannington Township, but the hospital was not affiliated with the free clinic other than providing space. During a yearly audit, officials looked at 22 patient records. At least five children in the 22 records were found to have irregularities that led the officials to believe that they were given improper vaccinations when they were brought to the Shots for Tots clinic in Salem County.

Officials say that the most egregious error found during the audit of the Shots for Tots clinic was that a toddler boy was reportedly given an excessive dose of Gardasil, the controversial “cervical cancer” vaccine that is given to preteens and teens to prevent certain types of HPV. Health officials told an NBC reporter that the two-year-old given the HPV vaccine at the Shots for Tots clinic child may be at risk of neurological damage. The county officials stated that they will pay for medical monitoring of all five children that were found to have likely been given the wrong vaccines, according to multiple reports.

“We’re hopeful, and certainly the child is going to be in our prayers and I hope your viewers put the child in their prayers in the context of passing this test. Hopefully, there may not be a negative side effect,” Michael Mulligan of the Salem County Counsel told ABC 6.

The nurse that was reportedly responsible for giving the 2-year-old toddler a high dose of Gardasil was allegedly fired from her job, according to NBC in Philadelphia. Mandi Cassidy, the nurse who allegedly lost her job, claims that Salem County is passing the blame onto her, and claims she resigned before the audit was ever released. Mandi insists that Salem County is actually to blame, and she also says that the county should train nurses better.

Additionally, a one-year-old baby was given the FluMist flu vaccine at the Shots for Tots clinic. That flu vaccine is a nasal spray that is not to be given to anyone under two years old, because it can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties, since it actually contains weakened, live flu virus, according to the manufacturer. Other children were given vaccines that had expired.

“If errors occur, errors occur. And you got to step up to the plate, and you have to make sure somebody’s not harmed further,” Michael Mulligan stated.

Besides the vaccination errors in five of the 22 children’s records that were audited, $20,000 worth of vaccines that might eventually have been given to Salem County children as part of the Shots for Tots clinic were not refrigerated properly and had to be discarded. The Administration Committee of Board of Chosen Freeholders in Salem County says that the Shots for Tots free vaccine clinic will remain closed “subject to further action.”

[Photo by Jan Christian]