A recent report was revealed that a Kroger in Midlothian, Virginia, which has a clinic location inside, accidentally administered empty syringe shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients. A spokesperson for the company told reporters that the incident was an “honest mistake” and said “at least nine people” were impacted by the mix-up. They said they would be billing the customer’s insurance for the administration fees and that they would not charge customers for the vaccine itself.
Allison McGee, the corporate affairs manager at Kroger Mid-Atlantic said the impacted customers were contacted and have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. They apologized for the inconvenience it caused customers and said all vaccinators were retrained and “reminded” of their current vaccination policies.
“We are proud of the more than 836,000 COVID-19 vaccinations our Kroger Health and The Little Clinic teams have administered to date across the country. Kroger encourages everyone to receive whichever vaccine is available to them at the earliest point they become eligible,” said McGhee.
But one health care professional said they were “under the impression” that a colleague had filled the syringes in the first place. When the health care workers took notice of the situation, they contacted people to return for the actual vaccine.
One patient, who received his shot at the Kroger location, said it felt like a rushed effort by the government and private industries working together to get as many people vaccinated as possible. He said that mistakes “are going to happen” and that should be expected.
Another individual, Carrie Hawes, received the empty shot and had qualified for it under Group 1B for people 65 and younger with underlying health issues. She said she wasn’t expecting the phone call she received regarding the empty shot and said her initial reaction was “shock and surprise, and a little anxiety.”
This isn’t the first time medical professionals have rushed through the vaccination process. An 82-year-old woman, Rosalee Pike, was also injected with an empty syringe at Colorado’s Pueblo Mall COVID-19 vaccine distribution clinic. Pike had to receive the injection twice after being notified that the first syringe didn’t contain the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pike’s granddaughter had taken a picture right before her grandmother was injected and, when zooming in, the syringe appears to be empty. “I zoomed in on the syringe and the plunger was all the way down—there was nothing in it,” she said.
The medical worker, administering the shot, said pre-filled syringes had been delivered to her workstation, but when she injected the vaccine, the syringe was empty. Although Pueblo’s top health official Randy Evett called this an “isolated case,” another incident occurred right before Pike’s. A nurse had injected a patient with the COVID-19 vaccine and during the injection, the tube broke off from the hub of the needle spilling the vaccine on the patient’s arm.
“I’m concerned because this population is 70 and older. I hope it’s the only case. My worry is that there might be more,” said Pike.
While health departments continue to add safety measures to prevent cases like this from happening again, you’ve got to wonder who is in charge of pre-filling syringes and what oversight is done to ensure they are filled correctly. With millions of vaccinations being distributed, medical professionals need to have a certain standard of qualifications to avoid giving shots of “nothing.”