BISMARCK, ND (AP) — The North Dakota health department has been storing thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses at incorrect temperatures or with no temperature data for the past two years, according to a state audit Tuesday that said some of the vaccine had been administered to patients.
The health department disputed the findings. Tim Wiedrich, head of the agency’s virus response, said “no non-viable vaccine” was given to patients. In comments accompanying the audit, the department said clerical errors or other errors in documentation falsely suggested that expired or poor doses were being given.
“DoH uses redundant systems to ensure proper monitoring and distribution of vaccines before end-of-life,” the agency said.
A spokeswoman for the court said it does not recommend revaccinations.
“We’re just reporting on what we found,” said auditing spokeswoman Emily Dalzell. “It is up to the individual and their doctor to decide whether revaccination is necessary.”
The state analysis said nearly 2,000 Moderna doses were stored and administered to patients at incorrect temperatures. The audit also found that nearly 13,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccines were released from storage with missing temperature data. The audit covered a two-year period ending June 30. A vaccine inventory was conducted on August 8, 2021, the audit said.
Wiedrich said the problem centered around documentation.
“We have not done the documentation to the satisfaction of the accounting department, which we are correcting,” he said. “We basically changed the forms and everything.”
The audit said that if vaccines are not properly stored, they may need to be revaccinated or they may not be effective against the COVID-19 virus.
In its written response, the health department said that “quality assurance procedures were in place and accurate test results were reported to the public.”
State auditor Josh Gallion said in a statement that the pandemic has presented “immeasurable challenges for all medical staff in the state. But he said, “even in stressful situations, it is critical that guidelines are followed to ensure vaccine efficacy.”
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