PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A portable storage unit malfunction forced health officials in Pueblo County to toss out hundreds of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE), 300 doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine have been rendered unusable.
On January 4th, the vaccines were being transported from the Pueblo County Health Department to a Pueblo Fire Station to vaccinate first responders.
The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at a temperature of -94 degrees. However, vaccines must be thawed-out before usage. At that point, they must remain within 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the transporters arrived at the fire station the temperature of the cooler storing the doses of the vaccine was at 34.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It's unclear how long the doses were at the colder temperature.
PDPHE called state health officials and Pfizer for guidance on what to do with these vaccines. Pueblo Health officials tell KRDO that neither were clear on how to proceed. With consultation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Pfizer, Pueblo Health officials aired on the side of caution and decided they wouldn't use the 300 doses of the vaccine.
"Safety is the utmost concern," said Pueblo County Health Director Randy Evetts in a statement to KRDO. "Per the manufacturer’s guidance for this instance, the vaccine could not be given. With consultation from the State and manufacture we aired on the side of safety and did not use the vaccine.We will continue to follow guidelines to ensure every dose we put into people is following safety guidelines; for the best interest of the people and integrity of the vaccine."
It is still unclear why the cooler dropped in temperature while transporting the vaccine.
Health officials say the loss of 300 doses hasn't had an effect on the supply the county is using to vaccinate people over the age of 70. Even during the day of the incident, 433 doses were administered and no one was turned away.
So far more than 7,900 Pueblo County residents have been immunized with at least one dose of vaccine.
On Thursday, Pueblo County's Sheriff's Office said they anticipate 1,000 seniors will be vaccinated at the new COVID-19 vaccination clinic near the Pueblo Mall using doses from Parkview Medical Center.