The La Paz County Health Department is responding to media reports that 100 doses of the coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine were spoiled. In an e-mailed press release, they said the doses, the first the county received, were delivered to the county with a sensor indicating they had been exposed to a temperature that was too high.
None of these doses were used in any of the county’s vaccination clinics.
La Paz County is not alone in having doses that have spoiled. News websites have stated the Arizona Department of Health Services has received reports from around the state about doses that have become spoiled and must be disposed of.
The doses were delivered to La Paz County in late December. The release stated that, when the problem was noticed, the county health department followed protocols and put the doses in a freezer with the notation, “Do not use.” They contacted the ADHS for further instructions. They were told by ADHS, the Centers for Disease Control and the manufacturer the doses had to be disposed of.
The county health department said they received phone calls from people asking if any spoiled vaccines had been used. Nursing Director Diana Grazier said none of the spoiled vaccines had been given to people to people in the county seeking to be vaccinated.
“No one has received a spoiled vaccine,” she said.
Health Director Marion Shontz said it was very disappointing to have this happen, especially to the first shipment.
“We were ready to hit the ground running,” she said. “The doses were replaced, but we were a week behind everybody else.”
The health department said these spoiled vaccines were beyond their control. They added health departments are good at handling vaccines, as they have to keep so many different kinds of vaccines in stock.
As of Feb. 27, ADHS reports over 5,300 doses have been administered in La Paz County, mostly to people over the age of 65.
The website AzFamily reported La Paz County is not the only entity to have to dispose of spoiled doses. They cited ADHS figures that show other partners around the state have had to dispose of 228 more doses. Earlier, they reported in January how Maricopa County had to dispose of 500 doses, while Northern Cochise Community Hospital had to dispose of 70 doses that had been stored improperly.
AzFamily and Fox 10 Phoenix reported no waste or return forms have been filled yet for two of the major vaccination sites in the Phoenix area, State Farm Stadium in Glendale and Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Will Humble of the Arizona Public Health Association told Fox 10 Arizona he has a tough time believing there haven’t been any doses that needed to be disposed of at the major sites.
“I just find it completely unbelievable in the tens hundreds of thousands of vaccines given at these large, high-volume state vaccination centers, that there has never been any unusable vaccine that need to be discarded,” Humble told Fox 10.
Statewide, the ADHS reports 1.72 million doses of vaccines have been administered as of Feb. 27. A total of 1.19 million Arizonans have received one shot, while 530,000 have received both shots.