A 4-year-old girl was supposed to get her flu shot at a local Walgreens in Baltimore earlier this month, but instead accidentally received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The mix-up, reported by The Baltimore Sun, could have had potentially dangerous implications, as children under 12 are not officially cleared to get the vaccine under Food and Drug Administration standards.
The drug giant Pfizer, which produced the vaccine the girl received, has applied to the FDA for authorization to use a less potent shot of the vaccine on children aged 5 to 11, the Sun reported, but even if that were approved, it’s still out of the girl’s age range.
In a statement, Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said the company has apologized to the family for the mistake, according to Fox News.
“Events like this are extremely rare and we take this matter very seriously,” the statement said.
“We are in touch with the patient’s family and we have apologized. Our multi-step vaccination procedure includes several safety checks to minimize the chance of human error. We’ve recently reviewed this process with our pharmacy staff in order to prevent a future occurrence.”
Victoria Olivier, the girl’s mother, told the Sun the family took steps such as calling poison control and asking for advice on social media as a precautionary measure.
Thankfully, the girl had no immediate ill effects, according to the Sun report.
According to Fox, the FDA also released a statement about the Baltimore incident, noting that the agency had not “evaluated data pertaining to the safety and effectiveness” of the COVID vaccine in children 12.
Should this family take action against Walgreens?
“We are glad to hear that the child is doing well and hope that she eventually received her flu vaccine,” the statement said.
“As per the vaccination provider agreement, it is mandatory for vaccination providers to report vaccine administration errors whether or not associated with an adverse event to VAERS [The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System].”
The Maryland incident comes after a similar thing happened to Savannah Courtad, a young woman in Arizona.
In an Instagram post, Courtad described going to a Walgreens earlier this month for a flu shot and getting a COVID-19 vaccination instead — a vaccination she never consented to.
Courtad does not identify the location of the Walgreens, but her Instagram biography describes her as a 19-year-old in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“She gave me the shot and as I was leaving told me to come back for my 2nd dose in 21 days,” Courtad wrote.
“Nurses can’t just go around injecting people with the wrong shot,” she continued. “I never gave consent for the COVID-19 vaccine to be injected into my body. Regardless of one’s position on this vaccine I would hope that we can all agree that having something injected into your body should be your CHOICE.”
The Olivier family and Courtad’s cases both reveal a potential procedural issue with how Walgreens is handling this chaotic crossover between flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who are over the age of 12, the vaccine is certainly safe and effective to lessen the harm of contracting COVID-19, but that does not excuse mistakes when the patient is either too young or did not want the shot.
Although the Olivier family has said they will not file a complaint with the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, this mistake should make parents extremely cautious when they bring their small children to get their flu shot this fall.