Alaska News

Ketchikan wasn’t able to use its first COVID-19 vaccines because they weren’t cold enough

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A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in the Southeast Alaska community of Ketchikan this week was deemed unusable because of the shipment’s temperature when officials received it.

Like many other small communities in the state, Ketchikan received a smaller shipment of vaccines compared to large shipments received by communities like Juneau and Anchorage, according to Kacie Paxton, public information officer at the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center. The community was shipped a smaller number of doses that had been separated from the large shipment.

The 20 doses — planned for fire department and public health workers — were placed into smaller containers from the larger containers that arrived directly from Pfizer in the state’s bigger communities, Paxton said.

It was determined that the doses had been outside of the company’s specific temperature range for too long a period of time and the vaccines, which arrived in Ketchikan on Wednesday, could not be used, she said.

“The details of the shipment and process have been documented, and improvements are being applied to the next shipment,” Paxton said in a statement.

Ketchikan received a replacement shipment of the vaccines on Friday morning and some of Ketchikan’s first vaccines were administered the same day, Paxton said. Pharmacists at Island Pharmacy along with residents and staff at assisted living centers were among the first to receive the vaccines.

The replacement doses were administered to public health workers on Friday and emergency services on Saturday, she said.

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