As hospitals across the country report slower-than-expected coronavirus vaccination rollouts, a Northern California county reportedly managed to dole out its entire supply of vaccines within two hours on Monday after a freezer storing the vials suffered a power outage, putting them at imminent risk of destruction.
Health officials at Adventist Health in Mendocino County said they immediately went to work alerting patients and administering all 830 Moderna vaccine doses after discovering the power failure just after 11:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reported.
Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a freezer, around 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to 30 days without issue. Once it reaches room temperature, it must be administered within 12 hours or it will become ineffective. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, in comparison, requires much cooler temperatures.
ASSOCIATED PRESS A nurse prepares a syringe of the COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California. A hospital in Mendocino County administered 830 doses of a coronavirus vaccine in two hours after a freezer outage threatened the supply.
The hospital reportedly had an alarm on the freezer that was meant to warn of such power failures but it did not go off. By the time the outage was detected, the vials had been at room temperature for several hours, leaving medical staff with an estimated two hours to administer them.
“At that point it was all hands on deck, drop everything,” Adventist spokeswoman Cici Winiger told the Times of the emergency response.
Medical workers were called in to administer the shots at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center and at some surrounding clinics. Doses were also sent to a local nursing home, Judson Howe, president of Adventist Health in Mendocino County, told CBS News.
As of Tuesday, roughly 17 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed across the U.S. Of that amount, just 4.8 million have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some governors, including those of New York, Florida and California, have called on their state’s health officials to speed up vaccinations. In California, only about 35% of the state’s vaccine doses had been administered as of Monday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday warned his state’s hospitals that they will lose their vaccine allotments to other hospitals if they don’t move more quickly. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also threatened his state’s vaccine providers with fines if they don’t use up their supplies by the end of this week.
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