Metro Health officials explain how department prevents losing vaccine doses


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Public Health leaders credit a system of checks and balances for preventing vaccine issues being experienced in Shelby County.

Metro Coronavirus Task Force Chair Dr. Alex Jahangir said when the county gets an allocation of vaccines from the state, there’s a clear inventory of what goes to clinics and health systems. There’s also a regular update of what’s being used and what’s not being used at those facilities.

“Those vaccines, a majority of which we use as the Public Health Department at the Music City Center, we keep in the Lentz Public Health building,” he said. “There is a room with several of these large freezers that we need for subzero temperatures. That room has access by several people, card access and code access.”

Dr. Jahangir said this system is in place so they know exactly who’s coming in and who’s going out, and they have a clear inventory of what’s there and what’s been used.  

“We also have a process where – let’s say we take 100 vials to Music City Center that are thawed out, and of those 100 vials, 70 of them are used. The 30 vials that aren’t used, we bring back that evening, place it in another fridge. That then makes that the priority for the next day so we don’t allow the five or so days you have to use the vaccine once it’s been thawed to expire,” Dr. Jahangir explained. “We know what needs to be used first. We use those first.”

Dr. Jahangir said they also have groups of people who can quickly be mobilized for vaccinations in case doses are about to expire.

“A month or two ago we had some vaccines that were about to expire, and there was a group of laboratory workers that fit in group 1a that we knew we could quickly mobilize, go to that location and vaccinate them quickly,” he said.

According to the Metro Health Department, Nashville did not waste or lose a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccines during last week’s winter storms.

Also, if there were a few doses left over after a day of vaccinations, the health department uses its standby list to help make sure they were not wasted.

“That’s another way we ensure even one drop is not wasted if at all possible,” Dr. Jahangir said.

From availability to current phases, find vaccine information for every Tennessee county using News 2’s Vaccine Tracker map.

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