Emergency officials responded to a call on Wednesday afternoon at Jacquelyn House, a residence for people with intellectual disabilities, in Bartlesville, near Tulsa.
First responders were told there were “multiple unresponsive people” at the house, Bartlesville police Chief Tracy Roles said.
It’s believed 10 individuals received insulin instead of flu shots, Roles said in a statement.
Jacquelyn House contracted a pharmacist to administer the influenza vaccine, she said, adding that the victims included eight residents and two staff members.
They were taken to Jane Phillips Hospital and are expected to be released soon.
Some remained in hospital until Thursday, police said, due to the nature of the long-acting insulin given.
“I’ve never seen where there’s been some sort of medical misadventure to this magnitude,” Roles said.
“It could have been worse,” she added.
“At some point, and we don’t know how it happened yet, the vial that contained the flu vaccine was traded out for a vial containing what we believe to be insulin,” Roles told CBS affiliate News on 6.
Sgt. Jim Warring of the Bartlesville Police Department told CNN that some of the residents who suffered were unable to explain their symptoms, as they were non-verbal or are unable to move.
“All these people are symptomatic, lying on the ground, needing help, but can’t communicate what they need,” Roles said at a news conference.
“That’s why I give a lot of praise to the fire and EMS staff for doing an outstanding job of identifying the problem.”
The flu shots were given on Wednesday by a contracted pharmacist, Rebecca Ingram, CEO of AbilityWorks of Oklahoma, told CNN in a statement. AbilityWorks of Oklahoma owns Jacquelyn House.
People with diabetes typically take insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels.
When an insulin overdose happens, cells in the body absorb too much sugar, and this sometimes can also cause the liver to release less glucose, according to Healthline.
These two effects together create low glucose levels in the blood, a condition called hypoglycemia. Individuals can then suffer concentration problems, seizures, loss of consciousness or death.
—With files from Associated PressFollow @meaghanwray
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