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There is no need to dispose of 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine stored by Rutherford County Schools, the Tennessee Department of Health announced this afternoon to Director of Schools Bill Spurlock.

Last Friday, the school district released that it had been instructed to return 1,000 vaccines to the local health department for disposal because the state health department felt the vaccines had not been stored properly.

However, Dr. Shelley Fiscus with the Tennessee Department of Health now says the vaccines were not damaged.

“Rutherford County Schools notified the Tennessee Department of Health on Feb. 26 that 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines sent to the school system to vaccinate teachers had been placed into an unmonitored freezer,” Fiscus said today in an email to Rutherford County School. “Once the error was discovered, the vaccines were taken to the Rutherford County Health Department and kept under appropriate temperatures.”

She continued: “Generally, vaccines must be discarded when they have been stored outside of approved temperatures but, in an effort to preserve these vaccines, TDH worked with experts at Moderna to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation and it has been determined that the vaccines were not subjected to temperatures sufficient to damage them. These vaccines remain safe and effective for use and will not have to be wasted.”

Director Spurlock expressed his appreciation for the state Health Department’s efforts to clear up the situation.

“We are grateful these vaccines have been deemed safe,” Director of Schools Bill Spurlock said. “Over the past week, we have provided feedback to the health department to ensure this type of issue is not repeated in the future.”


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