Kansas hospital trashes hundreds of coronavirus vaccine doses due to mistake

Kansas hospital trashes hundreds of coronavirus vaccine doses due to mistake

A Kansas hospital was forced to throw away nearly 600 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week due to a “process error,” health officials said Thursday. 

Lawrence Memorial Hospital said it received 570 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health on Wednesday. The doses are typically delivered while frozen — so they can be placed in a freezer at the hospital until they are ready for distribution. 

The Lawrence, Kansas, hospital, in a release, said it followed this procedure, “not realizing they were already thawed.”

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Vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the pharmacy of National Jewish Hospital for distribution in east Denver on March 6, 2021.  (Associated Press)

Vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the pharmacy of National Jewish Hospital for distribution in east Denver on March 6, 2021.  (Associated Press)

“When we discovered the vaccines had been delivered to the hospital in a refrigerated state, LMH Health immediately reached out to Johnson & Johnson for guidance,” said Brian Bradfield, LMH Health associate vice president of ancillary services. “The company advised these doses will have to be discarded.”

LMH Health President & CEO Russ Johnson said a vaccination team is aiming to quickly review and refine its vaccine waste prevention processes. He says those processes “failed in this case” and the team is working to prevent future errors.

“Although this is a small percentage of the overall vaccines that the county has received, we know it is not insignificant — this is a heart-wrenching situation for our hospital, our Phase 2 community members and our Unified Command partners,” Johnson said.

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“We owe it to our community and to the many volunteers and staff who pour their hearts into the vaccination effort to see this through in a manner that is both efficient and effective,” he continued. “We have had a nearly flawless process to date and we will determine where our processes failed and fix them.”

Bradfield said Johnson & Johnson requested that the hospital contact McKesson, a health care company overseeing distribution, according to the release.

“McKesson referred us our state and local health department to coordinate replacement doses,” he said. 

LMH Health and LDCPH were working to reschedule vaccine appointments for those affected by the error, FOX 4 of Kansas City, Mo., reported.

In January, nearly 2,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Boston after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer, according to hospital officials. 

In Wisconsin, a pharmacist agreed to plead guilty to federal charges after authorities say he deliberately ruined hundreds of doses by removing them from refrigeration for two nights.

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President Biden announced in an address to the nation Thursday that he was directing states, tribes, and territories to ensure that all U.S. adults become eligible for vaccination by May 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report