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After a freezer filled with Covid-19 vaccines broke, a California hospital scrambled to administer more than 800 doses in about 2 hours

A broken freezer at a Northern California hospital caused health officials to spring into action to save more than 800 doses of Covid-19 vaccines before they expired.

Posted: Jan 6, 2021 12:24 PM


When a freezer that was used to store the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a Northern California hospital broke, officials soon realized they only had about two hours to administer the more than 800 doses that were inside.

And they took on the challenge.

The executive team at Mendocino County's Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center was notified during a safety inspection Monday morning that a freezer was found to be at room temperature, Judson Howe, of Adventist Health, told CNN. And the alarm that was supposed to alert staff of the temperature change had also malfunctioned.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Moderna's vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require ultra-cold transportation. But at room temperature, the vaccine has a shelf life of about 12 hours, Howe said.

Hospital officials contacted Moderna but did not hear back. So, the hospital decided to race the clock and administer the vaccines.

"It was our main focus to make sure that we got every single vaccine into every arm. We reached out to the county public health officer and informed them of the situation and with a collaborative approach, we were able to administer all 830 vaccines in a matter of two hours," Howe said.

The freezer bust comes as local and state leaders across the country have scrambled to get all the distributed vaccines administered -- amid what has also been a slower vaccine rollout than hoped. In California, just about 27% of the vaccines that have been distributed have made it into arms so far. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week promised "aggressive action" to accelerate the administration of vaccines, including granting a waiver that will allow dentists to administer the vaccine after training.

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, medical officer Dr. Bessant Parker said.

The emergency was "all hands on deck," Parker says, and he, too, was "running around" to help coordinate the process.

"Given that this was an emergency, we focused on as many people as we could quickly mobilize within the tiers, and then the rest was to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis," Parker said. The hospital had to turn away at least 200 people who showed up seeking the vaccine. Those who received their shot were given CDC cards for tracking purposes.

"The reality is we were presented with a tough situation and we weren't going to let any vaccine go to waste," Howe added.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said vaccines were administered to 97 people including deputies, public safety staff, corrections deputies and other essential staff.

NaphCare, the health care provider for county inmates, administered the vaccines, adding they were distributed according to guidelines from the state's health department.

"We had a 'use it or lose it' unanticipated event," County CEO Carmel Angelo said. "Many thanks to Adventist Health for their quick notification, to NaphCare nurses for administering the vaccines and to the Sheriff's Office for providing space and staff support. We hope this never happens again, but we did learn that we can mobilize quickly to serve our community."

The county has reported more than 2,600 cases of the virus. It is part of the state's designated Northern California region -- which has about a 30% ICU availability and is the only group of counties that are not currently under a mandatory stay-at-home order. The other four regions, encompassing more than 98% of the state's population, all have an available ICU capacity under 15%, which has triggered the state's stay-at-home order.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1120922

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1300711493
Cuyahoga1169882259
Hamilton822191259
Montgomery533351059
Summit487911014
Lucas43688832
Butler39879614
Stark33752937
Lorain25937509
Warren24850312
Mahoning22663612
Lake21429396
Clermont20338260
Delaware19088138
Licking16820227
Trumbull16744491
Fairfield16735207
Medina15800276
Greene15468254
Clark14325308
Portage13391218
Wood13327201
Allen12026245
Richland11707213
Miami10976228
Wayne9238227
Columbiana9182236
Muskingum9114137
Pickaway8729123
Tuscarawas8706254
Marion8691140
Erie8109166
Ashtabula7264179
Hancock7039134
Ross7004165
Geauga6939153
Scioto6636108
Belmont6203179
Lawrence5905104
Union590049
Jefferson5718162
Huron5622122
Sandusky5467130
Darke5436130
Seneca5373128
Washington5352111
Athens526260
Auglaize506787
Mercer490285
Shelby480497
Knox4603112
Madison446966
Ashland441898
Defiance438099
Fulton435275
Putnam4349104
Crawford4103111
Brown408862
Preble3940107
Logan391479
Clinton387966
Ottawa374981
Highland364668
Williams355478
Champaign347560
Guernsey329554
Jackson321154
Perry298050
Morrow294543
Fayette287950
Hardin278865
Henry276967
Holmes2725102
Coshocton272461
Van Wert251465
Gallia248450
Adams247758
Pike244537
Wyandot235257
Hocking221763
Carroll200349
Paulding179342
Meigs150740
Noble137639
Monroe137445
Harrison115038
Morgan111524
Vinton87117
Unassigned03
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Showers and storms are possible early Sunday morning, but we'll be dry by sunrise. Partly sunny skies and hot conditions are expected for the second half of the weekend.
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