NorCal hospital workers race to save 830 doses of COVID-19 vaccine after freezer failure


A pharmacist dilutes the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while preparing it to administer to staff and residents at the Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

UKIAH, Calif. (AP) — A hospital in Northern California quickly vaccinated 850 people after a freezer that was holding the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines failed, prompting officials to do an emergency distribution of the vaccines before they spoiled.

An outage Monday left the refrigerator at the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County without power. By the time hospital officials realized the freezer had malfunctioned, they had 2.5 hours to distribute the vaccines, which have a shelf life of 12 hours at room temperature, Cici Winiger, Adventist Health spokeswoman, told the Ukiah Daily Journal.

The hospital sent 200 doses to Mendocino County Public Health that were dispensed to county workers, including sheriff’s deputies and jail staff. Jail inmates also received the vaccine, Winiger said.

Officials also sent 80 vaccines to nursing homes. The rest were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis after the hospital sent out a social media blast to recruit medical personnel to staff four makeshift clinics and another blast telling employees that anyone who showed up could get a shot, she said.

Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo said that the city helped administer the vaccine to city employees, including teachers and those who work with the homeless, and to many members of the general public.

Winiger said to get people to go to one of the four spots distributing the vaccine they “sent out a mass text to all staff and partner agencies to let everyone know, but it was mostly word of mouth for the most part.”

“All individuals who were vaccinated received vaccination cards and will be contacted for their second dose in 28 days,” she added.

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