Freezer Malfunction Forces Emergency Use of Vaccine

January 12, 2021

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations have taken great pains to prepare their. facilities for the arrival of vaccines to protect staff and patients from COVID-19. The vaccine rollout has gone more slowly than expected for a variety of reasons, but for one facility, technology undermined their best laid plans — almost.

Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in California had to quickly use its Moderna COVID-19 vaccines after the freezer containing them malfunctioned recently, according to Campus Safety. The facility experienced a power outage, which affected the freezer holding the vaccines. When officials from the hospital discovered the freezer wasn’t working, they only had 2.5 hours to administer the vaccines, which only have a shelf life of 12 hours at room temperature. The sensor that monitors the freezer didn’t work and didn’t notify hospital personnel of the problem.

The hospital was able to administer 830 vaccines in two hours. About 200 doses went to the county to administer, 70 went to skilled nursing facilities and the rest went through four clinics, prioritized according to state guidelines, said medical officer Dr. Bessant Parker. The vaccines were also administered to deputies, public safety staff, corrections deputies and other essential staff — 97 in all.

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