Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems
Dec 1, 2023, 9:29 PM
HERRIMAN — A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.
According to legal documents, CVS isn’t disputing what that couple says happened, but the company is arguing that they’re protected under the law from being sued for the alleged mistake.
Keeping track of a daily pill concoction, Julianna Preece takes a large combination of medications and vitamins prescribed and recommended by her doctor.
Standing at her kitchen counter in her Herriman home this week, she pulled out all the bottles.
“These are my lifelines, is what I call them,” she said.
She also keeps track of a laundry list of health issues. Preece sat on her couch and pulled out a large stack of papers.
“This is my medical file, as of today,” she said, sifting through the documents.
Preece opened a journal that is filled with her daily documentations of health issues she said she’s been experiencing the past two years.
“Any time there were side effects, anything that I was experiencing through all this, I would just note and keep track of,” she explained.
Julianna and her husband Nic said the problems began during a trip to CVS in West Valley City in August 2021.
“It was just, we’re going in for the COVID vaccine. It’s going to be a quick shot,” Nic remembered. The couple had scheduled back-to-back appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
They said one nurse was training another nurse to give out the COVID-19 vaccines, and that it was the first day the new nurse was administering the shots. The supervising nurse, the couple said, turned her back to the nurse-in-training, and was typing on a computer, not paying attention, during the injection.
Julianna noticed it was taking a long time to inject the vaccine, and it was really painful.
She said she made a comment about it, and the nurse-in-training responded that it was a large shot. After it was over, Julianna said the nurse-in-training asked the supervising nurse where to discard the vial.
The supervising nurse turned around, and the couple could see her demeanor change.
“Their eyes got wide,” Julianna remembers. She said the nurses quickly left the room. “And [Nic] noticed right off the bat that something wasn’t right. And he’s like, ‘Something went wrong.'”
The two nurses re-entered the room, Julianna and Nic said, and explained that the nurse-in-training thought she was to inject Julianna with the whole vial. They said the nurse-in-training didn’t know each vial was meant to vaccinate five different people.
The nurses said: “‘You were given the wrong dosage.’ ‘You were given 2.5, and the standard dose is .5.'”
“The first reaction was like, ‘What?! What do we do now?'” Nic remembers thinking. “Where do we go from here? You can’t exactly take it out.”
After administering five times the standard dose of the J&J vaccine, the couple said the nurses monitored Julianna for about 45 minutes to an hour and talked to the pharmacy manager and manufacturer. There didn’t appear to be any guidance on how to handle the mistake, the couple indicated, and eventually CVS sent the couple home with instruction to go to the doctor or hospital if she felt ill.
Hours later, Nic said he found Julianna slumped over in their living room.
“I picked her up and kind of helped her to the door. And right as we opened the door, she just collapsed and passed out,” he said. “It was stressful… I panicked.”
An ambulance took Julianna to the hospital, where she said she remained for three days.
In the nearly two-and-a-half years since, Julianna said she’s since experienced a myriad of sudden health issues: from mysterious, intense and recurring stomach pains, to breathing problems and heart palpitations.
Julianna, who was an avid runner, said she had just completed a half marathon before the vaccine. She can’t imagine doing that today.
“I still haven’t been able to run more than a couple of miles, and I still feel like I’m going to have a heart attack,” she said.
Last summer, she said a doctor diagnosed her with the heart condition myocarditis, which the CDC is currently investigating in relation to the vaccine. He prescribed medication to help her manager the condition.
“To this day, she’s still not one hundred percent,” Nic expressed. “And it’s just the question of, will she ever be one hundred percent, right? Or is this just her new way of life?”
“Do I just accept it?” Julianna echoed. “Or… will I ever be back?”
The couple said efforts to reach out to CVS have gone nowhere, so their attorney has filed a lawsuit against the nurses and MinuteClinic, which is the name of the vaccine clinic that CVS operates within its stores.
“Our thought was just to kind of figure out how to get her health back, and get some the bills covered,” Nic said.
CVS wants the lawsuit dismissed, and attorneys for MinuteClinic filed a Motion to Dismiss in late November, saying they believe MinuteClinic is covered under the Public and Emergency Preparedness Act, part of the pandemic response.
“The PREP Act immunity preempts all of Plaintiffs’ claims and provides immunity from suit as well as liability of Defendants,” the Motion to Dismiss states.
It outlines what’s in the PREP Act, saying that immunity “applies to any claim for loss,” and that loss includes “death, physical, mental, or emotional injury, illness, disability.”
The Preece’s attorney is filing a response this week, arguing CVS is wrong. He said the PREP Act applies when CDC guidelines are followed. In this case, mistakenly giving five times the regular dose would not be considered following the guidelines, he and the couple expressed.
“There’s a lot of steps and procedures that happen when you’re administering a vaccine or any other medical care. And it doesn’t seem like any of those were followed, including the dosage amount,” Nic said. “The nurse that was overseeing the training didn’t oversee the training, wasn’t making sure she administered the shot correctly.”
The couple is asking for damages in the suit.
What Julianna is hoping for, above all else: “Just that they take responsibility for it. I think that’s been my biggest thing.”
CVS sent KSL TV the following statement about the lawsuit:
“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, MinuteClinic is dedicated to providing safe, high-quality care. Our MinuteClinic clinicians, comprised of board-certified family nurse practitioners, physician assistants/associates, and clinical support staff, follow the most up-to-date clinical guidance as it relates to COVID-19 vaccine administration.”