BERLIN – An outcry is brewing in Germany as thousands are set to be revaccinated after a nurse admitted to injecting patients with saline solution instead of the coronavirus vaccine.
Almost 9,000 people who may have been given bogus shots in the spring will be offered new vaccinations, Friesland District Administrator Sven Ambrosy said in a news conference Tuesday.
The nurse, who has not been publicly identified, had initially admitted to giving shots of saline solution to six patients after suspicions were raised in April. She said she did so to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vial of the Pfizer vaccine, German television channel NDR reported.
However, since antibody testing was carried out, a much wider group of people is suspected to have been impacted. Police have also discovered that the woman, who worked with the Red Cross, had shared vaccine-skeptical posts on social media, NDR said.
Local authorities said they do not know how many of the 8,577 people who could have been impacted were not given a real vaccine, but advise that all of them get revaccinated as a precaution.
Those who received the shots are all over age 70, German media reported – making them more vulnerable to the disease that has claimed more than 91,000 lives in the country.
Police investigator Peter Beer said at a news conference that there was “reasonable suspicion of danger” and cited witness statements.
Many expressed shock at the incident, including Ambrosy. “I am totally shocked by this episode,” he wrote on Facebook. He said officials would work to ensure that such an incident would never happen in the Friesland district ever again.
Others on Twitter branded the health-care worker “dangerous,” writing that her actions were “appalling.”
This is not the first incident in which vaccine injections went wrong. Earlier this year, a 23-year-old Italian woman was mistakenly given six shots of the Pfizer vaccine by a distracted nurse who officials said “had an attention lapse.” The woman who was given the high volume of vaccine was closely monitored at a Tuscany hospital but did not suffer any reaction, health authorities said.