Public health officials in Tennessee had to work to use up COVID vaccine doses during last week’s snow and ice. But at least one batch of more than a thousand doses went bad.
On Friday, Shelby County disclosed to state officials that the doses had to be “discarded due to expiration.” Once thawed, Pfizer’s shots go bad in less than a week.
Gov. Bill Lee’s office sent health personnel to help and review handling procedures, according to a statement Monday from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Shelby County health officials have not responded to a request for comment or questions about whether the spoilage is related to winter weather. Vaccinations in Shelby County have been hampered by a secondary impact of low water pressure and a boil-water notice.
Dr. Lisa Piercey, the state’s health commissioner, plans to offer an explanation at a briefing scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Through the month of January, the state had only allowed 161 COVID vaccine doses to go bad, according to a WPLN News open records request. Local health departments have scrambled to use up doses after cancelling vaccination appointments on account of weather. Nashville ended up taking hundreds of doses to homeless shelters last week.
A thousand lost doses is significant: but it’s not a first in Tennessee. But earlier this month, Knox County also reported nearly a thousand doses were lost, though the explanation from local health officials is that it was a mixup in the shipping process.