A 4-year-old girl was accidentally injected with a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine instead of a flu jab.
On September 18th, Victoria and Martin Olivier made a deal with their 4-year-old daughter, Colette: She can have some sweets if she maintains good behaviour during the family’s pharmacy visit for seasonal flu shots. The family visited a branch of Walgreens where Colette volunteered to get the jab first.
However, instead of administering the flu shot, the pharmacist accidentally gave the 4-year-old a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, which has not been authorised for children younger than 12.
Last week, Pfizer announced that it would seek clearance from federal regulators in the coming weeks for elementary school-aged children, 5 to 11 years old, to receive the shots – but only for a regimen of about a third of the dosage given to adults and kids ages 12 and older.
Colette’s mother said that the pharmacist’s admission of error was a “record-scratch” moment, as she feared what the implications of her daughter having the jab could be. She wondered whether Colette would need to go to the hospital and if the vaccine would cause life-threatening side effects.
The Olivier family raced home and began researching resources about the vaccine on the internet. A 24/7 nurse’s hotline and Poison Control yielded few answers. As a last resort, Victoria turned to a robust network of social media friends for help.
Colette proudly announced: “I got the first Covid shot,” as she swung on a neighbourhood playground swing in Remington. All that was left of the injection is a plaster, which the young girl is too afraid to rip off.
Throughout the pandemic, the Olivier parents have communicated (or “fear mongered”) the dangers of the “pandemic” to their daughters. When Colette was able to return to school once they opened up again, her mother said that she often drew pictures of people wearing masks.
“It’s part of growing up now,” she said. “We tell her we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves. Sometimes she’ll ask, ‘When is the end of the pandemic?’ and the best I can say is, ‘We need more people to get the vaccine.’”
According to Olivier, this is why Colette is “delighted” with her unexpected immunisation status. Her mother said that she felt “special” knowing that she has done her part to “help the world heal.” Colette now apparently hopes to finally get her flu shot soon.
There is little guidance in place for parents who find themselves in a situation such as this. A representative for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is mandatory for vaccination providers to report vaccine administration errors, whether or not associated with an adverse reaction, to the federal government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
A spokesperson said: “FDA has not evaluated data pertaining to the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for use in children younger than 12 years of age, nor has FDA approved or authorized the vaccine for emergency use for this paediatric population.
“We are glad to hear that the child is doing well and hope that she eventually received her flu vaccine.”
Walgreen’s spokesperson Phil Caruso said that such mistakes are “extremely rare” and that the company’s top priority is patient safety.
“We are in touch with the patient’s family and we have apologised,” Caruso said. “Our multistep vaccination procedure includes several safety checks to minimise the chance of human error. We’ve recently reviewed this process with our pharmacy staff in order to prevent a future occurrence.”
Health experts have spoken about the case to state that the blunder, while frightening, was not life-threatening.
Brian Castrucci, an epidemiologist and president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, a public-health-focused charitable organisation based in Bethesda, said: “That’s not going to happen often. We should never have an error in our care, but this is an error that caused no harm. This isn’t poison.”
Following the incident, the Olivier family contacted representatives at Walgreens asking for Colette’s immunisation record to reflect the Covid-19 jab. They are not planning to file a complaint with the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, which would investigate the incident for as long as six months before making a decision “to discipline or not”, said Rochen Wang, compliance investigator supervisor at the state pharmacy board.
Whilst it seems that Colette has not suffered any short term adverse health effects from being given an adult dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, only time will tell what the long-term implications of this experimental vaccine will be on the 4-year-old.
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