Hospital in California Administers Hundreds of Vaccinations in 2 Hours After Freezer Failed
It’s truly remarkable how effective and efficient that people can be when overly bureaucratic policies aren’t in their way.
On Jan. 4, that sentiment was laid bare when senior staff at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County, California, found that the freezer that stored over 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had stopped working.
The doses were thawing.
Once the vaccine reaches room temperature, it must be administered within 12 hours.
According to the Los Angeles Times, by the time the thawing doses at Adventist were discovered, medical staff determined they had merely two hours to use them before the doses lost viability.
The decision then was made to circumvent state guidelines and inject every dose.
According to Adventist spokeswoman Cici Winiger, the medical team made the decision because, “The more people we vaccinate just brings us closer to herd immunity.”
First responders who rank at the top of the vaccine priority lists received the bulk of the doses.
At least 40 doses were administered to a local elder-care facility’s staff, 97 doses were sent to the local county jail (for staff and front-line personnel), and 100 doses were sent to the fire department.
Approximately 200 doses belonged to the county. Those were returned to county officials, who then administered 100 doses to the city of Ukiah, according to the Times.
With roughly 600 shots remaining, Adventist organized four sites across the county to disperse the vaccine, hoping none of it would go to waste.
About 15 minutes after learning of the freezer failure, doses were being administered at all four sites. Two hours later, by the time staff had estimated the doses would lose viability, every shot had been administered.
Some community members worried that the hospital hadn’t planned on giving the necessary second shot to those who had received the first dose on Jan. 4.
Winiger allayed those concerns, confirming to the Times later that contact information had been collected for every dose administered. Adventist planned to follow up with each recipient, giving them priority to receive a second shot.
The reality is, if left to their own devices, local hospitals and communities would be able to administer doses at a much faster and more efficient pace. Instead, government red tape and paperwork is getting in the way.
In New York, for example, restrictions on who can receive the vaccine have led to large numbers of doses being discarded, according to The New York Times.
It is important that those most in need receive the doses first, but as demonstrated with the Adventist debacle, it’s clear that local hospitals and governances are fully capable of working together to make sure the vaccine reaches front-line personnel first.
The vaccine rollout doesn’t have to be as slow as it has been.
However, one can always count on the built-in incompetence of government to mess things up.
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