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Rutherford County Schools received 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine Thursday for an upcoming employee clinic, but the school district must dispose of those vaccines after a storage error was discovered.

A vaccination clinic for 320 employees is planned for Saturday at the district’s Central Office. Fortunately, the school district has been able to partner with the local Health Department to continue plans for the clinic. The Health Department will work with the school district to administer the second dose of those vaccines, as well.

After receiving the initial shipment of doses Thursday, the school district’s health services department moved all the vaccines to a freezer. The doses needed for the vaccination clinic were then moved to a refrigerator and the staff used the supplied digital data logger to monitor the temperature. Friday morning, the digital data logger initially showed the temperature was correct, but then later gave an error code.

Upon checking with the Tennessee Department of Health about the error code, the health services department learned it was not supposed to store any of the doses in the freezer because it was not an approved model and the temperature had not been under constant monitoring.

“We deeply regret this error and have worked throughout the day with the state and local Health Department to better understand the issue and to ensure this type of mistake is not repeated,” Director of Schools Bill Spurlock said. “We are grateful that we will still be able to offer a vaccination clinic Saturday for the employees who had signed up for an appointment.”

The school district has been working with community partners to offer vaccination clinics for employees. A clinic was held at Eagleville School today, for example, through a generous donation from Twelve Stone Health Partners. The school district has also partnered with Saint Thomas Rutherford to offer a separate vaccination clinic Saturday at the hospital for 800 school district employees.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the COVID-19 vaccine storage error reported by Rutherford County Schools this afternoon.”

“We have a team on the way to Rutherford County now to look into this unfortunate loss of vaccine. Our Rutherford County Health Department is now partnering with Rutherford County Schools to provide resources to support the school system’s planned vaccination event for school employees tomorrow. We will share additional details about this situation when they are available.”


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