Investigators: State says new evidence shows no expired doses were given but investigation continues

Updated: Mar. 9, 2021 at 6:55 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Department of Health said Tuesday that their investigation into whether Shelby County residents received expired or ineffective doses is ongoing, but what they’ve found so far is “encouraging.”

“From what we’ve found so far it looks like that, for the data that we have, the vaccines were kept in temperature, which gives us no indication that they weren’t fully effective doses,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee’s Health Commissioner.

In a press conference Tuesday, Piercey said her staff is going back to Dec. 28, when the Shelby County Health Department began administering the COVID-19 vaccine, to make sure each dose was kept at its required temperature.

Related | County Commissioners express concerns with latest Shelby County vaccine loss, investigation

“I’m looking at every dose and every date range in the entire vaccine effort,” she said.

Piercey announced last month that the county health department couldn’t prove its doses were kept at the correct temperatures from storage to shot, mostly due to poor record-keeping.

In her update on Tuesday, she said her staff has been able to find some of those records and so far, the information is encouraging.

“We initially thought there were a lot of temperature logs and temperature stability data that just simply didn’t exist because it wasn’t measured or recorded. We have learned, over the last couple of weeks, in many instances that information does exist,” said Piercey. “We’re getting some of that information and in almost every case where we have the information, it does appear that they’re fine.”

However, Piercey said there is work to do before she can say with certainty that every dose given was effective -- at this point, more than 185,000 doses.

Related | Investigators: What if the state says you received expired COVID-19 vaccine dose?

“As soon as that work finishes, I plan to come back and say ‘I’m confident that these vaccines were stored at the right temperature and you can be reassured’, or, ‘if there is an instance where we’re not’ - to be able to tell you that,” she said.

Piercey said one issue with the Shelby County Health Department’s record-keeping is that several people who were in charge of keeping the records either no longer work there or work in other roles.

The Investigators reached out to the health department for more information about that, but have not heard back at this time.

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