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- Some people have mistakenly received saline injections instead of COVID-19 vaccines but were notified and asked to return to their vaccine provider to get the correct dose.
- Saline is used to dilute the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer before it’s injected. It’s not harmful, and millions of COVID-19 doses from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been safely administered in the United States.
A meme being shared on social media suggests there’s a nefarious plot to kill vaccine recipients because of reports of some people receiving shots of just saline.
"Some of you are being injected with saline because it would look too suspicious if everybody died at the same time," the post says.
It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
In April, news outlets reported that some people mistakenly got saline shots instead of a COVID-19 vaccine at a Walgreens in North Carolina. Walgreens said a "limited number" of people at a store received saline injections, according to the Charlotte Observer. Walgreens notified the customers and they were given the COVID-19 vaccine when they returned to the pharmacy.
One woman told a local TV station that Walgreens called them hours after they received their vaccines asking them to come back in because she said "the pharmacists evidently forgot to mix the vaccine into the saline solution."
A couple months later, in June, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said that a "very limited" number of COVID-19 vaccines reportedly contained only saline, according to WIS-TV, a local NBC News affiliate.
A woman said that she was called back to the pharmacy she had visited to receive her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine because it was "not activated."
A health department spokesperson said that there were some similar cases and that in each instance, the recipient was contacted to return for the proper vaccine dose.
And back in March, several patients in Ontario, Canada, were accidentally injected with saline instead of the vaccine, according to Newsweek.
Saline is used to dilute the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer before it’s injected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the preparation instructions for the vaccine direct medical providers to mix it with sterile 0.9% sodium chloride, which is saline.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines don’t require mixing with saline. This detailed graphic by the Chicago Tribune shows how all three COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States make their way from manufacturing sites to arms.
Receiving a saline injection isn’t harmful, and millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been safely administered in the United States. A rigorous regulatory process and real-world evidence shows that they effectively protect against COVID-19, and the vaccines continue to undergo safety monitoring.
While the CDC has said that three deaths from a rare blood clotting issue could be linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, more than 160 million Americans are now fully vaccinated with minimal complications.
The suggestion that people are being injected with saline as part of a bigger, deadly plot against humanity is unfounded and defies evidence.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, July 18, 2021
The Charlotte Observer, Some people got saline shots instead of COVID vaccine at a North Carolina Walgreens, April 18, 2021
ABC 11, North Carolina woman gets saline injection instead of COVID-19 vaccine, April 19, 2021
WIS-TV, ‘Very limited’ number of saline-only COVID vaccines accidentally given, SC health dept. says, June 28, 2021
Newsweek, Saline injected instead of COVID vaccine in South Carolina, June 29, 2021
Newsweek, Group of Canadians accidentally receive saline injection instead of COVID-19 vaccine, April 21, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine questions, visited July 20, 2021
PolitiFact, Should I get a COVID-19 vaccination? Answering questions for vaccine skeptics, May 27, 2021
Chicago Tribune, How COVID-19 vaccine gets from the factory to your arm: Here is how the tricky meticulous operation works, March 11, 2021
NPR, How is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign going in your state, updated July 20, 2021
Johns Hopkins Medicine, Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?, visited July 20, 2021
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