This is rather inexcusable. The University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, decided to televise COVID-19 vaccines for staff members. I am sure the leaders’ intentions were good. Showing medical workers taking the vaccine helps to increase confidence in the process and may encourage those hesitant to receive it.
However, if you watch this video of this vaccination, the syringe is clearly empty. The black plunger is fully depressed when the person administering it correctly pulls back on it. The vaccine is an intramuscular, or “IM,” injection. When you give someone an IM injection, you pull back slightly to ensure you have not mistakenly entered a blood vessel.
You're a professional but don't know when you have an empty syringe?
Allegedly, this is the first COVID-19 vaccinations at UMC this week. pic.twitter.com/E6yMYplnfk
— Hotep Jesus (@HotepJesus) December 17, 2020
According to the FDA’s Emergency Use fact sheet for the Pfizer vaccine, administrators should dilute 0.3 ml of vaccine in 1.8 ml of normal saline, then withdraw 0.3 ml of the diluted vaccine to give a dose. The syringe in the video appears to be a 1-ml syringe, which means the plunger’s black bottom should be a third of the way up when the professional makes the injection, and then the professional should back up the syringe halfway to ensure the needle does not stick in a blood vessel. The health care worker in the video clearly did not do this.
Once this video went viral on social media, the hospital said this nurse received another injection of the vaccine.
“After numerous reports emerged on social media claiming one of the five nurses receiving a vaccination on Tuesday did not receive a full dose of vaccine, we want to remove any doubt raised that he was not fully vaccinated and further strengthen confidence in the vaccination process,” UMC said in a statement to KTSM. “The nurse in question today was vaccinated again. UMC has confirmed with the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that re-vaccinating the nurse will not cause adverse effects. The nurse will need to return after three weeks to receive his second dose.”
However, given some people’s skepticism about the vaccine, watching a non-dose given on live TV is hardly helpful. Some medical professionals in the U.K. have warned that people with anaphylactic allergies that cause shortness of breath should not take the vaccine after two hospital staff members experienced reactions.
The COVID-19 vaccine uses new technology. The vaccine uses mRNA to innoculate people, rather than a weakened form of the virus, which other vaccines use. Some observers are concerned that, given the short trial period, researchers may not have identified long-term effects.
Further, health experts and Pfizer’s chairman have both said that getting the vaccine does not change the need for people to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus. While they are confident that you are not likely to have a severe illness from COVID-19 once you are vaccinated, masks, social distancing, and other precautions will still be required. They will not say that the vaccine prevents you from transmitting COVID-19. This is not the case with any other vaccine ever produced, so some young, healthy people ask, what is the point of even taking the shot?
You are certainly going to have some people who are more skeptical now. The video of an empty syringe on live television raises a serious question: Why did it happen? The person giving the injection knew the syringe was empty as soon as he pulled back on it. Very strange indeed and not helpful at all.