Hundreds of COVID-19 Vaccines Discarded Due to Storage Error at Kansas Hospital

March 13, 2021 Updated: March 13, 2021

A hospital in Kansas had to discard about 600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on March 11 due to mistakenly storing them in a freezer, a hospital spokesperson said.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) received 570 doses of the J&J vaccines on March 10 “in a refrigerated state” and placed them into a freezer, a standard hospital procedure normally done for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines that require extremely cold storage.

But unlike the mRNA vaccines, the J&J vaccines only need to be refrigerated at a certain temperature and cannot be put into the freezer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Once the hospital’s vaccine team recognized the error, they immediately reached out to J&J for guidance, Rebecca Smith, vice president of strategic communications at LMH, told The Epoch Times.

“Johnson & Johnson did indicate that those doses should be discarded,” Smith said.

In addition, Smith said that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) was informed of the vaccines wasted and the hospital has secured additional vaccines.

“We anticipate that our state health department will send Douglas County’s 600 replacement vaccines next week,” Smith said.

This is the first time the hospital has reported a vaccine wastage. The staff is reviewing “these processes to prevent future errors,” LMH Health President and CEO Russ Johnson said in a press release.

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

Epoch Times Photo
A vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y., on March 3, 2021. (Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)

The CDC requires all organizations that administer COVID-19 vaccines to report “the number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine and adjuvants that were unused, spoiled, expired, or wasted” as part of its requirement for providers.

“Failure of any enrolled COVID-19 vaccination provider organization or vaccination location under its authority to meet the conditions of the agreement may impact whether COVID-19 vaccine product orders are fulfilled and may result in legal action by the federal government,” the CDC says.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Kansas Department of Health did not confirm to The Epoch Times whether it is tracking these instances of wastage statewide.

Minnesota Department of Health said it is tracking vaccine disposal and wastage as “part of vaccine inventory” and requires vaccine providers to report any doses that are thrown out.

So far, 320 doses have been discarded since the rollout of vaccines began in Minnesota, where more than 570,000 people (10.2 percent) have been fully vaccinated and over a million have had at least one shot, according to MPR News.

In Texas, more than 6,800 doses of vaccines out of 7.6 million were thrown out, according to a March 5 report by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Over half of the vaccines wasted were a result of natural disaster or power outage, while other reasons included inappropriate storage temperature, expired or spoiled vaccines, and defective syringes or vials.

The Texas Department of State Health is keeping track of data on vaccine wastage and says providers must report doses that are thrown out within 24 hours.

But not every state is mandating vaccine providers report instances of vaccine wastage.

In Maryland, the state’s department of health says it is not tracking “specific instances of accidental vaccine wastage at the local level” unless the providers report them, according to ProPublica.

Whether this type of data is being tracked at the federal level remains unknown. Health and Human Services did not reply to an email from The Epoch Times seeking comment.

More than 133 million total vaccine doses have been delivered to providers across the country as of March 12, with over 101 million administered. In addition, more than 65 million Americans have received at least one dose and 35 million are completely vaccinated, according to the CDC.

President Joe Biden announced in his first address to the nation on March 11 that he will make the vaccines available to every adult by May 1.

“Let me be clear: That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot,” Biden said, later adding, “I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.”