High winds blamed for power outage that ruined 165 doses of COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente

Health care provider says Lakewood facility was the only one affected
Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 12:39 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 20:46:37-05

DENVER – High winds were blamed for a power outage that ruined 165 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente’s facility in Lakewood earlier this week.

The site suffered a brief power outage overnight Wednesday, according to Kaiser Permanente officials, who said in a news release Thursday night the outage “triggered a refrigerator storing some doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to temporarily stop working, causing the vaccines to exceed the recommended storage temperature as required by federal and local health officials.”

Kaiser Permanente said it notified health officials immediately and worked to safely administer as many doses of the vaccine as possible to staff, physicians and members of the health care provider.

In another statement issued Friday, Kaiser Permanente officials said once they were alerted about the power outage, they followed proper protocol to verify the integrity of the doses.

"In the early afternoon, we verified the vaccine went slightly above recommended temperature but was still safe," they said, at which point they vaccinated staff and physicians before the doses expired at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Officials said they were able to administer 135 doses.

Additionally, officials said people scheduled to receive a vaccine on Thursday were not impacted and received the COVID-19 vaccine. They said they were expecting to have more doses available at their Lakewood facility later on Friday.

No other Kaiser Permanente facility was impacted and power to Kaiser’s Lakewood facility and the storage unit in which the vaccines were contained has since been restored, according to the statement.

Officials said the Lakewood facility did not have a back-up generator, but added they are conducting a thorough review, including the potential of adding an emergency back-up power source at the location.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine must be stored at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), which is about the same temperature as a home freezer.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said Friday it was aware that the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) "rendered 300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine unusable after a portable vaccine storage unit malfunction," adding it acknowledged that emergencies may occur infrequently during the distribution process.