Wasted doses: Tulare County officials confirm they threw out defrosted COVID-19 vaccines

CBS47 Investigates

VISALIA, California (KGPE) – Tulare County health officials were forced to throw out unused COVID-19 vaccines over the weekend. Eyewitness News confirmed with the Tulare County Health Department that 11 doses were destroyed.

An internal investigation is underway to find out what went wrong after an inside source revealed what happened.

The incident took place Saturday. Tulare County’s coronavirus dashboard shows how many vaccines have been administered.

26,770 have been administered so farm, roughly 5% of the population. Of those with their first shot, 80% are still awaiting their second. Tulare County has been asking for more doses as they are in high demand.

The health department could not provide us with an on-camera interview about the wasted doses but did send a statement explaining the incident.

An incident occurred at our COVID Vaccination clinic held last Saturday at the International Agri-Center in Tulare where vaccines were overdrawn, resulting in eleven vaccine doses leftover after the individual having the last appointment was vaccinated and the clinic was closed. These overdrawn, extra doses could not be administered, as this vaccination clinic was for administration of second doses only, and all patients at this clinic were required to have already received their first dose of the vaccine administered by Tulare County Public Health. Our highest priority is to distribute COVID vaccine in a safe, secure, and equitable manner, with zero waste of the precious COVID vaccine, and we believe it is of the utmost importance to get this vaccine into an arm, rather than see it wasted.

County officials are actively gathering information and confirming if County personnel failed to follow vaccination procedures and protocols set forth by Tulare County Public Health, which are to draw only enough vaccine for residents with confirmed vaccination appointments and only draw vaccine when those with confirmed appointments have arrived at our drive-through vaccination clinic, thus ensuring no vaccine is wasted.  

We will be reviewing our current policies and procedures and will make any necessary improvements to prevent this from occurring in the future, ensuring no vaccine doses go to waste or unused at any of our COVID vaccination clinics.

It’s not clear what happened. An internal investigation is underway to see if personnel failed to follow protocol, but Tulare County understands one dose wasted is one too many.

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