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VERIFY: Some people who got COVID-19 vaccine at Sanford Walgreens may have received a deactivated dose

Walgreens confirmed that staff diluted the vaccine with "sterile water" instead of the intended saline solution. They notified the Maine CDC.

SANFORD, Maine — People who got a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Walgreens in Sanford in the last week may have received a deactivated dose after staff diluted the vaccine with the incorrect solution.

Joseph (we're omitting his last name for privacy reasons) told NEWS CENTER Maine about his experience. He wrote in an e-mail:

"My 17-year-old daughter got her first Covid-19 vaccine on 5/16/21 from Walgreens in Sanford, Maine. We received a call from the pharmacist today (5/19/21) stating my daughter needs to come in again as soon as possible because they mixed the vaccine with the wrong solution. There were dozens of people there getting shots and I fear they had the same outcome as us. . We contacted the CDC and are now worried if getting another "1st" dose is appropriate. This is very disturbing for our family and I'm sure many others."

We reached out to several sources for information about this:

Walgreens confirmed that some patients received a COVID vaccine at the Sanford location "that was improperly diluted with sterile water for injection instead of the correct diluent, normal saline, used to prepare Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines."

"Immediate corrective actions have been taken. We are reaching out to the impacted patients and will administer a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as these patients are available to return to the pharmacy for a corrected first and/or second dose within the appropriate time frame. We have safely administered millions of vaccine doses. We have taken immediate steps to review our detailed procedures with the location to prevent this from occurring againWe have informed both the Maine Department of Health and the CDC," wrote Fraser Engerman, Senior Director, External Relations for Walgreens.

Neither Walgreens nor the Maine CDC could tell us how many people were impacted, but Engerman said the doses were administered in the last week.

NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to Pfizer for comment about this situation. The company referred us to the U.S. CDC. We are still waiting to hear back and will update this article when we receive a response.

The Maine CDC declined to comment. Walgreens did not say how this mistake may impact the people who received those incorrectly diluted vaccines.

We also reached out to MaineHealth Chief Improvement Officer Dr. Dora Mills for context.

Dr. Mills said the Pfizer vaccine comes with a specific solution for dilution, likely one without preservatives because those preservatives can deactivate the vaccine. Her other diluents could also deactivate the vaccine.

"There's no harm that's done except someone might have gotten a vaccine that wasn't that effective, so they may need another dose," said Dr. Mills.

So is it safe for people to get a replacement dose?

The U.S. CDC has not yet responded. Mills believes it is safe.