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 called them to inform them that their children had been erroneously administered the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine instead of the flu shot, according to local television channel WFIE-NBC14. The Pfizer vaccine is not yet authorised for children below 12.
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. They have doctor’s appointments this week.
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.
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 given the Pfizer vaccine instead of flu shots in Baltimore, Maryland. The child has not experienced any major side effects.