Walgreens Vaccine Mix-Up: Saline Instead of Pfizer — How Did it Happen?

MONROE, N.C. – Nearly two dozen people were impacted by a vaccine mix-up at a local pharmacy.

Patients thought they were getting a Pfizer shot but instead were injected with a saline solution.

It happened at the Walgreens on Fincher Street in Monroe.

We’re now learning more about how a mistake like this could happen.

Walgreens now say 22 people got the saline shot instead of Pfizer on Saturday, March 20th.

On Sunday night, we shared Lisa Strawn’s story. See the full story here.

The Marshville woman and her husband were two of those impacted.

“About 5:30 they called us and told us we needed to come back the next day, that there had been a mix-up with our shot,” Strawn said.

She was told the pharmacist had forgotten to mix the vaccine.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily a complicated process,” explains Dr. Martez Prince, owner of Premier Pharmacy in East Charlotte.

He says the Pfizer vaccine arrives in a concentrated form and must be diluted in the saline solution before it goes in arms.

Moderna is different — and comes ready to go.

“I could see maybe if individuals are used to doing different vaccines each day it could be a little confusing,” Prince says.

Prince says his pharmacy takes extra precautions, like giving Pfizer or Moderna on different days, to avoid confusion.

In a statement Walgreens said it contacted people who are affected and rescheduled their dose:

“We recently learned of a limited number of patients who did not receive the vaccine at one of our Monroe, North Carolina, stores and instead received an injection of saline. In alignment with CDC recommendations, we reached out to all impacted patients and administered a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as the impacted patients were available to return to the pharmacy. These patients will later receive their second dose within the appropriate time frame. We are investigating what happened and have taken immediate steps to review our procedures with the location to prevent this from occurring again.”

Strawn and her husband have now gotten both Pfizer doses.