Audit: Thousands of North Dakota COVID-19 vaccines stored incorrectly

Compromised vaccines given to patients could have resulted in need for revaccination, inadequate immune response, or ineffective protection.

Updated: October 18, 2022 - 11:29pm

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(The Center Square) - Thousand of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were stored by the North Dakota Department of Health at the incorrect temperature and some could have been ineffective, according to an audit of the department.

The compromised vaccines given to patients could have resulted to "a need for revaccination, inadequate immune response, and ineffective protection against the COVID-19 virus," according to the report from State Auditor Joshua Gallion

More than 1,900 Moderna vaccines were stored at incorrect temperatures and given to patients. More than 12,800 Pfizer vaccines were taken from storage with unknown temperature data, according to the report.

The report also found nearly 145,000 vaccines did not have written temperature logs.

"The DOH was also unable to provide documentation to verify when vaccine was stored in two fridges located at the state warehouse," the auditors wrote in the report. 'The two fridges located at the loading dock (referred to by the DOH as dock fridges) were used to store vaccines that were returned from pop-up clinics. There was no documentation for when vaccines were placed in the dock fridges and these fridges had a history of not keeping proper temperatures."

The DOH also did not reconcile its COVID-19 vaccine inventory.

“We recognize that the pandemic brought on immeasurable challenges to all medical staff across the state,” Gallion said in a news release. “Even in stressful situations it’s critical for guidelines to be followed to ensure the efficacy of vaccines. The highest standard of care is required when administering healthcare — including vaccines — to citizens.”

A representative from the DOH did not immediately return a message to The Center Square.

North Dakota’s Department of Health and the Department of Human Services merged into one agency Sept. 1. The newly formed Health and Human Services Department is lead by Chris Jones.