MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There's more fallout from the Shelby County Health Department mess. From expired doses to doses that may or may not have been kept at the right temperature, some people are now questioning if the COVID 19 vaccine they received is any good? Will it offer protection against the virus?
State investigators are in Shelby County trying to piece together what went wrong with the health department's handling of the vaccine.
"I would really just like some answers," said Amanda Lynch. "Is the vaccine valid? Is it really going to provide coverage?"
Lynch has a lot of questions about the vaccine she received. Her dose came from one of the lots that was identified by Shelby County as a lot with wasted doses. She is concerned what she received may have been expired or not kept at the proper temperature.
"The state is obviously looking into the expired doses, as well as the temperature being maintained," said Dr. Manoj Jain, Infectious Disease Specialist.
Jain is a member of the Memphis Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force.
"It's really important to maintain the temperature control so we maintain the viability of the vaccine," said Jain.
Jain said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are MRNA vaccines. Jain said that part of the genetic material is very fragile, which is why it needs to be kept at a deep freeze.
The state of Tennessee "COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Guidance" manual laid out to health departments how the vaccine should be handled. It says daily temperature checks should take place twice a day. Special equipment is used to document that.
"A digital data logger is essentially a digital thermometer that goes on either side of the refrigerator or transport cooler, and it has the ability where you push the button and it automatically uploads the data for the computer," said Dr. Lisa Piercey, TN Department of Health.
But TN Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Piercey said Shelby County can't provide the state with a full set of data, saying the vast majority of it was not saved by the county. Investigators are trying to piece together the information to determine if there were any problems.
"From the minute it leaves the factory, all the way through transport to storage in the health department, and then until it gets in someone's arm, we have to know the temperature throughout," said Piercey.
Without having that information, some wonder if the vaccine they received was good and will provide them with the protection they need.
"You know we don't have enough studies to tell us what temperatures there is degradation occurring at. For now we just have to make sure we maintain those temperatures to keep the vaccine from going bad," said Jain.
If you are concerned about the vaccine you received, you can always ask your doctor to do an antibody test on you. That should show if you are protected from COVID-19.