Vaccine hesitancy has become a hot-button issue in the United States and around the world. Between anti-vaxx conspiracy theories and hesitant individuals, many people remain uncertain about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. People are now worried that a story regarding a woman who accidentally received six shots of COVID vaccines at once may exacerbate these concerns.
On May 9, a 23-year-old Italian woman was mistakenly given six shots of the Pfizer COVID vaccine all at once. The doses were administered by a distracted nurse at the Noa Hospital in Massa, Tuscany. Pfizer’s vaccine comes with six doses per vial, which then must be individually extracted and placed in separate vials before they are diluted and administered.
In this instance, the mistake occurred when a nurse injected all of the liquid from an undiluted vial into the patient.
Fortunately, the nurse immediately realized her error. Both the patient and attending physician were quickly alerted, and the woman was monitored for any adverse reactions. She was kept under observation in the hospital’s emergency room, where she was given fluids, anti-inflammatory medication, and fever medication as preventative measures.
After approximately 24 hours elapsed without any apparent adverse reactions, the woman was released from the hospital on May 10.
“This person at this time will certainly not have side effects,” Dr. Antonella Vicenti, director of infectious diseases at Noa Hospital, told CBS News.
Vincenti also cited several Pfizer studies as further evidence the patient would likely not experience any abnormalities. The studies showed that other people who received up to five times the standard dose suffered no adverse effects.
“The patient did not have a fever and did not have any pain except for pain at the inoculation site, nor any other manifestations,” Vincenti said. “She was a bit frightened, thus we preferred to keep her here until this morning.”
The hospital will continue to test the patient’s blood regularly to monitor her immune response and to determine whether she should still get the scheduled second dose. Vincenti said it was too early to determine what, if any, long-term side effects there might be.
“This is something that should never happen,” Dr. Tommaso Bellandi, director of patient security for the northwest Tuscany health authority, said. “Unfortunately, due to our limits as human beings, as well as organizational limits, these things can happen.”
Bellandi chalked the incident up to an “attention lapse” during a hectic day when hospital workers were trying to administer as many vaccine doses as possible. The nurse apparently mistakenly thought the dilution process had already taken place, as both liquids are transparent and of similar densities.
“Unfortunately, this contributed to the error,” Bellandi said. “I’m not trying to justify something that we hoped would never happen. We are extremely regretful, especially toward the young woman.”
It’s not the first time something like this has happened. In April, a number of Iowa prisoners were also given six doses at once. According to Business Insider, none of the inmates had to be hospitalized.