Officials in Texas's most populous county found themselves scrambling to administer thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses Monday after a power failure affected the cold storage system in which they were kept.
The Houston Chronicle reported that officials erroneously believed that they needed to distribute more than 8,000 doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine after a freezer in which the vaccines were kept lost power; Moderna's vaccine must be stored between minus 13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Officials moved to distribute more than 5,400 vaccines to three area hospitals, a county jail and Rice University before a Moderna official informed them that the doses could be stored again.
“The vaccine supply we thought we were going to lose in a few hours, we could actually re-refrigerate and administer [those] later to our wait list,” said Lina Hidalgo, county judge for Harris County, whose position serves the same role as a county executive.
Hundreds of people received their COVID-19 vaccine Monday as a result of last-minute clinics set up at the hospitals and at Rice University, which received roughly 1,000 doses to distribute on campus.
Those clinics were possibly some of just a few places where Harris County residents could get vaccinated this week, as all county-run vaccination clinics are shut down through Wednesday due to the effects of a winter storm devastating the region.
Two people have been reported dead across the state as a result of freezing temperatures, officials said Tuesday morning, while millions more remain without power.