Virginia Kroger now says it administered ‘empty syringes’ instead of COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 8:11 AM EST
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Kroger says a small number of people who came to the Little Clinic at their location off of Midlothian Turnpike to get their COVID-19 vaccines ended up getting an “empty syringe” after the company previously said it was a saline shot.

In a statement to NBC12 News, the company says it was an “honest mistake.” They went on to say, “All impacted customers were contacted and have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. We apologize for this oversight and the inconvenience caused for these customers.”

Earlier on March 10, Kroger said the shots were saline, but later that day the company now says they were actually “empty syringes.”

Kroger also didn’t specify how many people were impacted by this mix-up, only saying it was a small number of people.

Carrie Hawes was one of the people who received this empty shot.

Hawes qualifies for the shot under Group 1B for people 65 and younger with underlying health issues.

She said got an appointment to visit the Kroger location on Monday night to get the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 shot. The next day, Hawes got a phone call from the store she wasn’t expecting.

“Talked to a manager right away and they explained that there had been a mistake made - that we had been given saline only. There was no vaccination material,” Hawes said. “My initial reaction was shock and surprise, and a little anxiety.”

Within two hours of this call, Hawes came back to the Kroger location to get her vaccine. Throughout the process, Hawes says the store was transparent about the situation.

“They were very clear with me when we went in,” she said. “They showed us the vial to make sure it was Johnson and Johnson, pulled out the vaccine, she showed me again.”

Hawes hopes her experience doesn’t keep people from getting their COVID-19 vaccines.

“Yes, it’s unfortunate that a mistake happened, but it was a small number of people. The situation was fixed,” said Hawes. “I get that it’s been a long year and there isn’t a lot of trust sometimes in our systems and the process, but I think everyone has the best intentions and the end result is to get as many people as we can vaccinated, as quickly as we can so we can all be protective of our community.”

Kroger also says they’re not charging customers for the vaccine itself. They said they’re billing a customer’s insurance for the administration fee and that there’s no payment due at the time that a customer receives a vaccine.

Read Kroger’s full updated statement below:

We are proud of the more than 836,000 COVID-19 vaccinations our Kroger Health and The Little Clinic teams have administered to date across the country. Kroger encourages everyone to receive whichever vaccine is available to them at the earliest point they become eligible.

One of our TLC locations made a mistake and administered empty syringes instead of the COVID-19 vaccine. All impacted customers were contacted and have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. We apologize for this oversight and the inconvenience caused for these customers.

This was immediately addressed with the TLC team and all vaccinators were retrained and reminded of our current vaccination policies. We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health on this matter.

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