Corrective measures underway at Shelby County Health Department after wasted vaccine doses

Tennessee News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The head of the Shelby County Health Department said Wednesday that corrective measures are underway after the state found numerous problems with its COVID-19 vaccine distribution system.

A day after the city took over vaccination efforts, Dr. Alisa Haushalter with the health department said they have already made some personnel changes and are actively looking to review and adopt state policies. The health department is also working closely with the state to finalize a remediation plan.

“We know that things have not gone perfectly,” Haushalter said.

Haushalter said she specifically asked the state to stop distributing vaccines to the local health department until they have exhausted their inventory of vaccine and until they have thoroughly reviewed the policies and personnel.

They are also looking to implement the usage of VaxQueue, which was launched by Shelby County over a month ago.

She said the health department reported the wasted vaccines to the state in a timely manner and blamed the snow storm for the very high inventory.

On Feb. 19, the Shelby County Health Department revealed that 1,315 doses of the vaccine that were set to expire had to be discarded after ice and snow closed vaccination sites.

The Tennessee Department of Health conducted an investigation on the matter and determined the actual number of wasted vaccines was 2,400. The state also said there were 51,000 excess doses on hand, and a lack of record keeping and standard procedures.

According to the state’s findings:

  • Seven incidents of vaccine waste amounting to more than 2,400 wasted doses
  • 51,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in inventory. This amounts to an excess of about 30,000 doses. The goal is to administer the vaccine within seven to 10 days of receipt.
  • Lack of standard operating procedures for storage and handling of the vaccine
  • Insufficient record keeping
  • No formal process for management of soon-to-expire vaccine doses

Haushalter said the county believes the actual number of vaccines on hand was 43,000, and the county was working to reduce that number.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said they are investigating the matter and fired the site manager who managed the relationship with a pharmacist in charge of the vaccine. The county also asked for the pharmacist in charge, who is a contractor and not a county employee, be removed.

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

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