Florida health officials to conduct audit after doses of coronavirus vaccine spoiled

Florida health officials announced on Wednesday that they are conducting an audit of the state’s handling of the coronavirus vaccine. This comes after more than 1,000 doses were spoiled in Palm Beach County last week, according to officials.

The audit will require a full accounting of vaccine-related equipment and procedures after 1,160 doses were found to be stored incorrectly in a refrigerator that had been turned off, per CBS Miami.

“It is 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,” Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said in a statement. “We hope to see this situation rectified and addressed immediately to ensure the Palm Beach County Health Care District does not let one more dose go to waste.”

Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at nearly minus-100 degrees Fahrenheit to remain effective — about 20 degrees colder than extreme winter temperatures at the South Pole. Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine is shipped frozen, although at comparatively less frigid minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit. The vaccine can be moved to a typical refrigerator, but for only five days. It was unclear how long the Florida doses were stored improperly.

Health officials want the audit to be completed by February 12 and “all findings and corrective actions be reported to the Florida Department of Health.”  

coronavirus vaccine — Florida
Irma Mesa, 74, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center at Jackson Hospital on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, in Miami.

Lynne Sladky / AP

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said that if COVID-19 vaccination sites are left with extra doses after those who have made appointments receive them, the doses should go to other people — even if they are under the age of 65.

“Get it in someone’s arm, don’t let any of it go to waste, especially given how much demand there is for it,” the governor said.

The state is currently offering vaccines to the following people: those 65 years of age and older; health care personnel with direct patient contact; and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

State health data shows that more than 2.2 million doses have been administered in Florida. More than 421,000 people have received both of the required vaccine doses to be considered fully immunized, per health officials.

The CDC said nearly 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed nationwide and more than 27 million people have received at least one shot, as of February 3.

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