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Thousands in Germany may have received saline shot instead of COVID vaccine, health officials say

A nurse is suspected of switching out doses of the coronavirus vaccine with salt water.

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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
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Health officials in the German state of Lower Saxony report that a nurse may have replaced more than 8,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with a harmless -- and useless -- saline solution. Now those officials are urging anyone who was vaccinated at the Roffhausen Vaccination Center between March 5 and April 20 to return for revaccination.

"In this unclear situation, it is important that catch-up vaccinations are offered to all those who may be affected as soon as possible," said Dr. Matthias Pulz, president of the Lower Saxony State Health Office. "Even if people have already been correctly vaccinated twice, appropriate catch-up vaccinations are harmless to health and should definitely be used."

The nurse in question was reported by another employee of the facility after administering six of the saline shots instead of vaccine doses on April 21, according to a release. The nurse was summarily fired, and local police initiated an investigation, finding that as many as 8,557 doses of the vaccine administered in the weeks prior may have also been compromised.

The investigation is still underway, but CNN reported Wednesday that officials said police found that the nurse was "motivated to oppose the vaccination." Health officials stress that the salt water solution isn't harmful, but they're urging anyone vaccinated this spring to return for the real thing.

"The fact that we have to start this appeal makes me very upset, because many of our citizens may not have the vaccination protection they wanted, which they are entitled to," said district administrator Sven Ambrosy. "That is why the most important thing for us now is to inform these people, answer their questions and offer them the further vaccination. I therefore ask all citizens to contact us if they have received a vaccination during the period mentioned."

Anyone vaccinated at the Roffhausen Vaccination Center this spring can call 0800/000 516 0 free of charge to schedule an appointment.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.