Healthcare Workers Give COVID-19 Vaccines Through the Night to Avoid Doses Expiring After Freezer Fails

Katie Campione
·3 min read

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A freezer malfunction in Seattle created a race against the clock to make sure dies of the fast-expiring Moderna COVID-19 vaccine did not go to waste.

Around 9 p.m. Thursday night, a freezer at Kaiser Permanente Washington containing around 1,600 first doses of the vaccine malfunctioned, according to The Seattle Times.

Hundreds of healthcare workers and volunteers immediately sprung into action to ensure that no dose went to waste — meaning all doses had to be administered by 5:30 a.m. on Friday.

"I received a call this evening at 9 o'clock and learned a Kaiser freezer went down and could we help vaccinate people before the doses expired at 5:30 in the morning?" Jenny Brackett, an assistant administrator with the University of Washington Medical Center, told The Times.

Swedish Medical Center and UW Medical Center split the doses and each posted on social media and reached out to local news stations to include the message in their broadcasts.

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Swedish Medical Center COO Kevin Brooks said the available appointments at his hospital were filled within 35 to 40 minutes, according to local NBC affiliate King 5 News.

"We got a call from a partner hospital that they had a fridge malfunction and they needed to vaccinate 880 people," Brooks told the news station. "I pulled our team together, our vaccine team at Swedish, and we huddled on Microsoft Teams and came up with a plan, and 30 minutes later we came on site."

Healthcare officials told local news outlets that they tried to vaccinate as many priority patients as possible, including seniors and essential workers, but the main goal was to make sure no doses were wasted.

"We're doing the best we can to stay within the CDC and the governor's guidelines on prioritization. At the same time, we want to make sure not a single drop of the vaccine goes wasted," Brooks told King 5 News.

Tyson Greer, 77, had been waking up every day around 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. for over week to search online for an open vaccination appointment, she told told The Seattle Times.

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She happened to spot the callout and headed to UW Medical Center — Northwest to finally receive her first dose.

"Heaven," Greer told a Seattle Times reporter as she awaited vaccination.

Vaccines were being administered past 3 a.m., The Seattle Times reported.

It was not clear what caused the freezer malfunction, but luckily all the doses were able to be administered before they expired.

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