After a long period of lockdown, demand for COVID vaccines and boosters has been high. At times, the demand has exceeded both the supply of vaccines and pharmacies’ capacity to administer them. Unfortunately, when a pharmacy accepts a high volume of patients without increasing its capacity and hiring more staff, it can result in errors and mix-ups. These errors in vaccine administration have the potential to be fatal.
As a recent news article reported, a woman received the incorrect COVID vaccine booster at a Walgreens pharmacy in Rutland, Vermont. The woman received the vaccine after making an appointment for the “newest, most updated” COVID booster. Two days after her appointment, she received a call from the pharmacy informing her they had mistakenly administered an older version of the booster. The pharmacy employee told her she was still protected from COVID; however, the booster would not protect her from the newest strain. Luckily, the woman did not suffer any medical issues from the mix-up. However, given the potential for a more dire mistake, she filed a complaint with Walgreens’ corporate offices. After doing so, she claims she received an indication that other people had also received the wrong vaccine, though Walgreens denies that it happened to anyone else at the Rutland location.
Notably, the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation filed a complaint in June 2022 seeking to revoke or otherwise discipline the licenses of 32 Walgreens stores in the state, including the Rutland pharmacy. In fact, in its complaint, the Office reported that unsafe conditions at the pharmacies have increased the risk of prescription errors, vaccine administration mistakes, and the risk of harm to patients. Allegedly, Walgreens’s vaccine scheduling site had allowed such high volumes of appointments that staff could not keep up with the demand. According to the complaint, these issues resulted in the pharmacy’s inability to safely administer vaccines.