Walgreens accidentally gave children Covid shot instead of flu jab, parents claim

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not yet authorised for children below 12

Sravasti Dasgupta,Jade Bremner
Thursday 14 October 2021 13:52 BST
Related: Here’s how to register for a Covid-19 vaccine at Walgreens

A couple in Indiana has alleged that a Walgreens pharmacy gave their children Covid-19 shots instead of the flu jabs that they had asked for.

Alexandra and Joshua Price, residents of Evansville, Indiana, said that they visited the pharmacy on 4 October to get flu shots for themselves and their two children, aged 4 and 5.

But after they returned home, the pharmacy allegedly called them to inform them that their children had been erroneously administered the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine instead of the flu shot.

“When they called us and told us that they had made a mistake and had given us the wrong shot, I was just in shock,” Alexandra Price told CNN. “All I could say to them was, ‘What does this mean for my kids?’”

The Pfizer vaccine is not yet authorised for children below 12. “Lukas started feeling sick before we even got home from Walgreens,” explained Ms Price.

“He was feeling yucky, lethargic, and already had begun a fever,” Mr Price added.

The couple took their children to a doctor, who told them that their 4-year-old son was experiencing tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat, while their 5-year-old daughter had high blood pressure. As of Monday, the boy had a fever and a cough, while the girl had a fever, the parents said.

Pfizer has formally asked the US Food and Drug Administration for authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine for Americans aged five to 11 but a final decision will be taken only after an expert panel debates the evidence on 26 October.

The children were allegedly given a higher dosage than what would be given to children under 12. The parents asked for proof of vaccination so they could get medical advice, but said the store was hesitant. “They wanted to get their legal department involved and did not want to give us those cards, so we got our own attorney,” Ms Price said.

Walgreens said that patient safety remains their priority but refused to comment on the specific case due to privacy laws. “But generally speaking, such instances are rare and Walgreens takes these matters very seriously,” Walgreens said in a statement to Evansville Courier and Press.

“In the event of any error, our first concern is always our patients’ well-being,” Walgreens added. “Our multi-step vaccination procedure includes several safety checks to minimise the chance of human error and we have reviewed this process with our pharmacy staff in order to prevent such occurrences.”

This is not the first time such an error has been reported from a Walgreens pharmacy. On 18 September, a 4-year-old girl was reportedly given the Pfizer vaccine instead of flu shots in Baltimore, Maryland. The child has not experienced any major side effects.

The Independent has contacted the Price family and Walgreens for further comment.

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