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Thousands of virus vaccines sent to an El Paso clinic won’t be administered for 2 weeks

EL PASO, Texas -- More than 2,000 vaccines were sent to the Immunize El Paso's eastside clinic last week, but won't be administered until next week leaving the vaccines sitting in a freezer for two weeks.

Director of Operations Dusty Warden told ABC-7 they received notice of the shipment on Dec. 22. By the next day, they received the thousands of doses of the vaccine. The clinics were scheduled to be closed the next day for the holidays.

Warden told ABC-7 he wasn't at liberty to deny the vaccine shipment even though they were going to be closed for two weeks.

"If you refuse the vaccine, you could impact the viability of it," said Warden. "It would wind up going into to a shipping container and it would delay the vaccine cold chain and that would have a more devastating effect," he said.

Warden told ABC-7 they used the two weeks to train staff, alert the public and ensure they had a "well-thought-out process" before they were ready to administer the vaccines.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has released a letter advising vaccine providers to administer the vaccine immediately upon acceptance.

The letter said in part, "everyday a vaccine sits on the shelf is another day that prolongs the pandemic that is hindering our state's economy and way of life."

DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt also released a public statement on vaccine administration in Texas, calling on it to happen immediately upon receipt.

“All providers that have received Covid-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of severe disease or death from Covid-19. No vaccine should be kept in reserve,” he wrote.

Until the vaccines are ready to be administered at Immunize El Paso, the vaccines are being held in a freezer, according to Warden.

"All of our refrigerators are being monitored by staff who is on site, then we also have them connected to an internet-capable data logger to where our key staff receive internet notifications on their devices at home if there is a temperature excursions and we check the temperatures each day," said Warden.

Immunize El Paso this week started accepting appointments for the 2,000 vaccine doses they received. The appointments are all booked and will be spread out between their clinics.

They do not know when they will receive another shipment.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Shelby Montgomery

Las Cruces native Shelby Montgomery is an ABC-7 reporter who also co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.


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