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California race against time: an operation with 850 patients not to waste any vaccines

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When the authorities of a medical center noticed the damage, they had only two and a half hours left to distribute the doses

A Northern California hospital managed the mission of rapidly vaccinating 850 people after a refrigerator storing doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna began to fail, forcing rapid emergency operation to prevent doses from being wasted.

A blackout on Monday knocked out the refrigerator at Ukiah Valley Adventist Medical Center in Mendocino County. Doses from the U.S. lab can be up to 12 hours at room temperature, and by the time hospital authorities realized the freezer was broken, they had two and a half hours left to distribute the vaccines, said Cici Winiger, a spokesman for the center to Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper.

Seeing the situation, the order of immunization was no longer respected to the letter. Phase 1A doses were initially intended for frontline health workers and nursing home employees. But to avoid the wastage of medicine, it was extended to other essential employees as well.

The hospital sent 200 doses to the Mendocino County Department of Public Health and they were administered to county employees, including police officers and prison staff. Some inmates also received the vaccine, Winiger said.

Authorities also sent 80 vaccines to homes for the elderly. The rest were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis after the hospital made a post on social media to recruit medical staff to attend four temporary clinics and another post informing employees that anyone who will show up could be vaccinated, the agency spokesman added.

Ukiah city manager Sage Sangiacomo said the agency helped administer the vaccine to city ​​employees, including teachers and those who work with the homeless, and many members of the general public.

Winiger said that to get people to go to one of the four sites where the vaccine was distributed they sent “a massive text message to all staff and partner agencies to inform everyone, but it was mostly word of mouth”.

All individuals who were vaccinated received vaccination cards and will be contacted for their second dose in 28 days,” the spokesman added.

The event occurred while California is facing an acute crisis in the healthcare sector due to increased cases of coronavirus and patients requiring hospitalization.

For now, the authorities have not referred to the possibility of a boycott, as was the case in Wisconsin, where an employee intentionally left more than 500 doses of Pfizer out of the refrigerator.

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