Mendocino hospital hurries up vaccine shots after freezer malfunction

Moderna vaccine

A California hospital administered 600 coronavirus vaccine shots in just two hours after its freezer malfunctioned.

At 11:35 a.m. on Monday, staff members at the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County discovered that their freezer, containing 830 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, had been inactive for hours.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, the compressor on the freezer had stopped for hours, and the alarm did not go off.

Moderna’s vaccine must be stored frozen or refrigerated at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius — about 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. If the solution hits room temperature, it must be administered within 12 hours.

By the time the Mendocino County hospital workers discovered the freezer failure, the vaccine shots had been warming up, the Times said. They estimated they had two hours to give out the shots or faced losing them, the newspaper said.

“It was not how my day was planned,” Cici Winiger, an Adventist spokeswoman, told the Times. “At that point it was all hands on deck, drop everything.”

The medical center set up four pop-up vaccination sites across the county and spread the news among staff members that vaccines were available and needed to be used.

“We just told them, ‘Tell everyone you know,'” Winiger said. “We just wanted to make sure none of this goes to waste.”

Six hundred doses were successfully administered in just two hours at the sites, The Times said. Dozens of people were turned away when stocks were exhausted, the Times said.

Forty doses went to staff members at an elderly-care facility nearby, and 200 doses were returned to the Mendocino County government — 97 of which were used on staff at the Los Angeles County Jail that day, the Times said.

California has some of the most dire COVID-19 case and fatality numbers in the US. On Monday, more than 70,000 cases were reported, a record for daily case numbers in the state.

More than 9,140 new cases and 77 new deaths were reported in Los Angeles County, one of the worst-hit counties, on Monday.

The same day, Los Angeles County’s Emergency Medical Services said in a memo that, to “conserve oxygen” during the COVID-19 outbreak, medics should give oxygen only to patients with blood-oxygen levels below 90%; levels above 95% are usually considered normal.

Mendocino County, where the hospital is located, is much better off than the rest of the state, but an outbreak at the Mendocino County Jail has seen 63 inmates and 13 staff members test positive for the coronavirus, KRCR reported on Saturday.

What are your thoughts on this issue?