Florida health officials are demanding an audit of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County after over 1,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were recently spoiled.
On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health asked the Health Care District to conduct a full accounting of all vaccine-related equipment and procedures since the district said the power to the refrigerator storing the vaccines was “unintentionally turned off.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Palm Beach County that he supports the health officials’ probe.
“I think it’s 100 percent appropriate to do. We know that there are certain storage requirements with these,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “People are very conscious about that by-and-large, so I think we need to get answers.”
A spokesperson for the district told NBC News in a statement that while the staff was conducting a standard quality assurance check on Jan. 22, they identified 232 refrigerated vials containing 1,160 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outside of the required temperature control range. Staff then verified the doses were not usable and, as a result, the vials were destroyed.
Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said in a statement on Wednesday that it was a “tragedy” that the vaccines were damaged.
“While we must rely on partners to distribute this critical resource, we expect that every provider treat the vaccine as the precious commodity that it is,” Rivkees said. “We hope to see this situation rectified and addressed immediately to ensure the Palm Beach County Health Care District does not let one more dose go to waste.”
The district called it a “single, isolated incident caused by human error” and said they would “fully comply” with the department’s request.
“The Health Care District is committed to maintaining the integrity of all vaccine supply and has implemented extra layers of safeguards that include centralizing all COVID-19 supplies daily at a secure location with 24/7 power generator back-up,” the spokesperson said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines must be stored in specific sub-freezing temperatures, which has created a major challenge for pharmaceutical giants amid the race to vaccinate.
As of now, Florida has rolled out nearly two million doses, with 1.7 percent fully vaccinated in the state, according to NBC News’ count.
Officials requested the audit be completed by Feb. 12 and reported to the Florida Department of Health.