1,000 COVID vaccine doses damaged in Palm Beach County

More than 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were reported damaged last week in Palm Beach County, prompting Florida health officials on Wednesday to call for an audit into how the life-saving vaccines are being handled.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said health officials wanted to inquire after receiving reports of doses that were spoiled because they were improperly stored. The Florida Department of Health has asked the Palm Beach County Health Care District to conduct a full accounting of all vaccine-related equipment and procedures to store and handle the vaccine.

"I think it’s 100% appropriate to do. We know that there’s certain storage requirements," DeSantis said during a news conference Wednesday in Pahokee. "People are very conscious about that by and large, so I think we need to get answers."

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said he wants the health care district to address the problem to make sure doses are not wasted again.

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"While we must rely on partners to distribute this critical resource, we expect that every provider treat the vaccine as the precious commodity that it is," Rivkees said in a statement.

The audit must be completed by Feb. 12, and findings and actions must be reported to the health department.

The governor also said that if vaccination sites end up having extra doses after people who have made appointments have been served, they should make sure others get the shot, even if they aren’t 65 or older.

"You can’t just put it back in the freezer," DeSantis said. "Get it in someone’s arm, don’t let any of it go to waste, especially given how much demand there is for it."