An audit by Florida’s Palm Beach County Health Care District revealed that 1,160 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine were spoiled last month when someone unintentionally shut off the refrigerator in which they were stored, the district said Thursday.
The audit came a day after the Florida Department of Health asked the district to perform a full accounting of all vaccine-related equipment and procedures it has in place to store and handle the Covid-19 vaccine, after the district reported damage to doses last week.
“This incident was caused when the power supply for a refrigerator storing the vaccine on our mobile unit at an outreach site was unintentionally turned off, causing the temperature to rise,” the district’s statement read.
It added this was an “isolated incident caused by human error” that “had absolutely no impact on patient safety.” Additional layers of quality control were immediately put in place as a result, the district said.
“One of the additional safeguards includes centralizing all vaccine supplies daily at a secure location with 24/7 power generator back-up,” the statement read. “To date, our safety net health care system has provided nearly 25,000 COVID-19 vaccines countywide and we look forward to continuing this vital service for our community.”
In a statement, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said it was “a tragedy that even one dose of this critical resource would go to waste and not be used to save a life from Covid-19.”
Rivkees said he hopes to see the situation addressed and rectified immediately to ensure that Palm Beach County does not allow any more doses to go to waste.
Across the United States, nearly 34 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered, with more than 27 million people — or just over 8% of the population — having received at least one dose. About 6.4 million people have received both doses, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Around 70% to 85% of the US population should be fully vaccinated before the country can begin to return to a sense of normalcy, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday night.