TDH: Rutherford County Schools’ vaccines not damaged, safe to use


RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Department of Health has announced there is no need to dispose of the 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine stored by Rutherford County Schools after all.

On Friday, February 26, the school district announced it had been instructed to return 1,000 vaccines to the local health department for disposal as the state health department felt the vaccines were not stored properly.

According to a release, Dr. Shelley Fiscus of TDH now says the vaccines were not damaged.

“Rutherford County Schools notified the Tennessee Department of Health on Feb. 26 that 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines sent to the school system to vaccinate teachers had been placed into an unmonitored freezer,” Fiscus said Friday in an email to Rutherford County Schools. “Once the error was discovered, the vaccines were taken to the Rutherford County Health Department and kept under appropriate temperatures.”

Vaccines usually have to be discarded when they’ve been stored outside of approved temperatures. However, in an effort to preserve the vaccines, TDH worked with Moderna vaccine experts and conducted a thorough analysis of the situation, according to the release.

The analysis then revealed that the vaccines were not exposed to temperatures significant enough to damage them.

TDH says the vaccines remain safe and effective for use and therefore will not be wasted.

Bill Spurlock, Director of Rutherford County Schools, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for TDH’s efforts to save the vaccines and clear up the situation.

“We are grateful these vaccines have been deemed safe,” Director of Schools Bill Spurlock said. “Over the past week, we have provided feedback to the health department to ensure this type of issue is not repeated in the future.”

No information regarding when the school district plans to use the vaccines was released.

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

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