LMH reports wasted vaccine due to process mistake

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:56 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Almost 600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were lost in Lawrence.

Douglas County says almost 600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have been lost during a transfer between Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and LMH.

LDCPH said it received 570 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on March 3 in a refrigerated state and transferred them to LMH on Wednesday, March 10, at 1:45 p.m. It said due to the vaccines being delivered to LMH while still frozen, the standard process is to put them in a freezer at the hospital until the time of distribution. It said LMH followed the procedure when they got the J&J vaccine, but did not realize they had been thawed.

“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. At Johnson & Johnson’s request, we have contacted McKesson, who is overseeing distribution. McKesson referred us our state and local health department to coordinate replacement doses.”

LMH Health President and CEO Russ Johnson said that while guidelines are in place to prevent vaccine waste, his team failed in this case. He said the vaccination team is working together to quickly review and alter the processes to prevent more mistakes.

“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. “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. We have had a nearly flawless process to date and we will determine where our processes failed and fix them. What we learn will be shared with our community partners to prevent issues down the road.”

Dan Partridge, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director, said LMH has been a crucial partner in the county’s vaccination effort, which has been led by Unified Command.

“We had a single process that deviated from the norm,” said Partridge. “This is a good reminder for all Unified Command partners to check and double-check their doses during transfer. We will follow that process going forward, as we navigate this bump in the road.”

The County said LMH Health and LDCPH are working to reschedule vaccine appointments that were affected due to the mistake. It said these appointments will likely be rescheduled for its next joint clinic planned at the Douglas Co. Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

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