March 15th, 2019: This story will continue to be updated as it develops.
Navy spouse and mother of one, Jena Cool, has never had any reason to doubt the competency of the doctors, nurses, or Corpsman at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. However, after a recent incident involving vaccines and her young son, Makai, she is taking action against the hospital and those responsible.
Jena arrived at the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton on Tuesday, March 5th, for her son’s well-baby checkup and required vaccines. At the well-baby checkup she received some difficult news about her son’s development and was given information on starting the Exceptional Family Member Program status. She then proceeded to the vaccination room where the Corpsman verified her son’s name and the vaccines that were to be given, which here dTap and Hep A boosters. The Corpsman said Makai was behind on vaccines which Jena disputed. After a 40 minute discussion between her doctor, the Corpsman, and herself, they proceeded with the appropriate vaccines.
Later that afternoon, Makai began feeling ill- his injection site was swollen, red, and he couldn’t stand without collapsing. Jena took him to the Emergency Room at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and was released a few hours later with the thought that it was either a poor injection or an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
The next day, Makai was still not feeling well. Jena proceeded back to the ER where she learned Makai’s records stated he was a “no show” for the appointment. Since the pediatric department was now closed, she had to wait until the next day to visit in person. On Thursday, March 7th, Jena learned that imperative information was missing from Makai’s vaccine records such as the lot number of the vaccine and the administrator.
Over the next several days, Jena placed several phone calls and sent numerous emails which were not returned. Almost a week after the incident began, Jena finally received a call from the Department Head of Pediatrics at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and learned that the Corpsman responsible, who has not been removed from his post, may have accidentally injected Makai with vaccines that were meant for a 15-month old patient (dTap and Hib, meaning Makai possibly had a double-dose of Hib).
Makai has had titers completed (bloodwork to show the level of vaccine in his blood) to see what vaccines he has been given, but even those may not give Jena and her family the complete answers.
You can read Jena’s full story here:
While double-doses of vaccines aren’t generally harmful to most children, the issue of concern for Jena and her family is the lack of safety and the negligence of the hospital staff at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton as her son’s vaccination records are not only missing information from his 18-month appointment but also previous vaccinations that Makai has received. Lack of proper record keeping by the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton staff has put Makai at-risk, especially if it cannot be verified which vaccines he did in fact get if he is to have an adverse reaction to them.
What Can Parents Do
Parents should ask for a copy of their child’s vaccines after each immunization. Those records should be double-checked to ensure that they reflect the following information:
- Vaccine given
- Manufacturer and lot number of the vaccine
- Location of immunization shot
- The name of the person who administered the vaccine
In addition to proper record keeping, each Corpsman or nurse (LPN or LVN) should ask to verify the name and the birth date of the child who is being vaccinated as well as verify the vaccines that are to be given. THERE SHOULD BE NO OTHER VACCINES OUT AT THE SAME TIME.
What Training Do Corpsman Receive?
Naval Corpsmen “help to provide health care to Navy and Marine Corps members and their families,” as stated by the United States Department of the Navy. Most prospective Navy corpsmen first attend Navy recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois. Navy hospital corpsman initial training is held at the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. All Navy corpsmen candidates then attend the joint Navy and Air Force Basic Medical Technician Corpsman (BMTC) program at METC. After graduation from BMTC, a new Navy corpsman might receive additional specialty training or go to his or her first Navy or Marine Corps unit.
What Can You Do if Your Child’s Vaccination Records are Incorrect or Your Child was Possibly Injected with the Wrong Vaccines?
The first thing parents should do if they suspect their child’s vaccination records are incomplete or wrong, or if you believe they were not properly immunized, is to contact your PCM as well as the department head at the hospital or clinic. You can also submit and ICE complaint as well as ask to speak to the Commanding Officer of the hospital. If your issue is still not resolved, you may take it up to the Garrison commander as well as your branch’s senior leadership or state Senator.
If you wish to pursue legal action against the hospital or the staff, visit your local JAG office to find out what options you have. Since it is a military facility, legal repercussions are not always the same as they would be in a civilian facility but medical doctors and nurses can have their medical licenses removed by the Board of Physicians or Board of Nursing if applicable.
As military families we put our trust and guidance into those who are put in place to focus on the health and well-being of our families, and we are often left feeling like we have no real action to take when something occurs. But by being proactive and a leader in your family’s health and safety, you can be one step closer to doing what you can to protect yourself.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on When Your Birth Plan Changes: Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton