German health care workers sent to hospital after coronavirus vaccine overdoses

Four northern German health care workers were sent to the hospital on Sunday after being accidentally given five times the recommended dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Officials from the Vorpommern-Ruegen district reported that eight workers in an elderly care facility had received an overdose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with four developing flu-like symptoms and being monitored as a precautionary measure. When the mistake was discovered, the workers, who are between the ages 37 and 54, were informed and sent home. 

“I deeply regret the incident,” district chief Stefan Kerth said in a statement obtained The Hill. “This individual case is due to individual errors. I hope that all those affected do not experience any serious side-effects.”


District authorities cited previous statements from BioNTech that indicated that larger doses were used in the first phase of trials and did not lead to serious consequences. 

Pfizer and BioNTech pointed out that for those who receive an overdose of the vaccine, “monitoring of vital functions and possible symptomatic treatment is recommended.”

The incident occurred days into Germany and the European Union’s rollout of the vaccine, approved by the EU’s drug regulator last week. The U.S. and U.K. had approved the vaccine earlier this month and began giving out the first doses in recent weeks. 

Along with Pfizer, the EU has contracts with AstraZeneca and Moderna for its vaccination campaign and plans to vaccinate 6.25 million people by the end of the year. 

Some German districts refused to use vaccine doses received over the weekend out of concern that the required cold conditions for the vaccine were interrupted during the delivery, Reuters reported on Monday. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be shipped at a temperature between -112 degrees and -76 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

—Updated at 2:25 p.m.