Walgreens Allegedly Vaccinated People With Saline Solution Instead of a COVID-19 Vaccine

The blunder was quickly corrected, and only involved 22 people.
Fabienne Lang

When medical mix-ups happen, you have a good reason to panic. Will you suffer terrible side effects? Will your body reject the unknown medicine? Will your foot fall off? 

Alright, so maybe that last one is a little off the charts, but your mind veers off to rocky places when something's injected into our body that's not meant to be there. 

Perhaps these questions ping-ponged around the brains of the 22 people who were allegedly injected with saline solution instead of a COVID-19 vaccine. The mistake happened at a Walgreens pharmacy in Monroe, North Carolina in late March, as a slew of local news reports, like WCCB, stated.

The fact-checking website Snopes did its regular checks and concluded the news was true. Walgreens has not published an official statement yet, but one of the pharmacy chain's spokespersons confirmed to Snopes that 22 people were part of the blunder, all of whom were later contacted and called back to the Walgreens in question to receive their proper Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose. 

COVID-19 vaccine mix-up

The mix-up might have happened because Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines use saline solution as a diluent — so, someone at Walgreens might have forgotten to add the actual vaccine dose into the needle. 

As the spokesperson said: "We have safely administered millions of vaccine doses. We have taken immediate steps to review our detailed procedures with the location to prevent this from occurring again."

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They also mentioned that no adverse side effects of the saline solution injections were reported by the patients. This is easy to believe given saline can be used to clean wounds, keep contact lenses clean, and when injected, it can help treat dehydration. 

It's good to know everyone involved in the mix-up was ultimately fine and received the correct dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As COVID-19 vaccination efforts around the world forge ahead, with some countries like Bhutan and Israel almost in the clear, it's important that their roll-outs are carried out in a safe and efficient manner.