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Germany care home workers accidentally given five times normal dose of Covid vaccine

Rollout in eight European countries was delayed after logistical problems with the temperature of the vaccine  

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 29 December 2020 11:16 GMT
An elderly woman receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a nursing home in Burgbernheim, Germany, December 28, 2020
An elderly woman receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a nursing home in Burgbernheim, Germany, December 28, 2020 (Reuters )
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Germany’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign got off to a bumpy start on Sunday after eight workers at a retirement home were accidentally given five times the normal first dose of the jab each.

Four of the employees of the care home were admitted to hospital after developing mild flu-like symptoms while others were sent home, although none has yet experienced significant ill effects.

“I deeply regret the incident. This individual case is due to individual errors. I hope that all those affected do not experience any serious side-effects,” district chief Stefan Kerth said in a statement.

The care home workers, one man and seven women, were between 38 and 54 years old and amongst the first in the country to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Several European countries began rolling out their vaccination programmes from 27 December. Germany said the initial stages of its inoculation drive would give priority to the elderly in care homes and front line staff.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, developed in less than a year, is designed to be administered in two shots and is delivered in vials that each contain five doses once diluted.

But the vaccine also needs to be stored at extreme low temperatures, and the Germany rollout has been beset with problems with about 1,000 vials returned amid suspicions they were not kept cool enough during transit, delaying inoculations in several cities.

“When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements,” read a statement from officials in Lichtenfels, in the north of Germany’s largest state of Bavaria.

Elsewhere, some local medical staff had shown apprehension at receiving the shots, and Ursula Nonnemacher, health minister of the state of Brandenburg, agreed on postponing the jabs, saying it is important to give people the time to make decisions.

Germany has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s public health institution. Over 30,000 people have died in the country as of Tuesday.  

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