Speed Reads

quick thinking

Texas health officials rush to distribute thousands of vaccines after power loss

A brutal winter storm has knocked out power for millions of Texans, and forced health officials in Harris County to find a way to quickly distribute doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

The power went out early Monday at a county facility that was storing 8,430 doses of the vaccine, and when a backup generator failed to turn on, officials put together a plan to "allocate and salvage" the vaccines, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said on Monday night. "We were looking for places where there were already large numbers of people, or where there were nurses, trained medical professionals who could administer the vaccines, and where we wouldn't need folks to drive somewhere in this very dangerous weather and road conditions."

Workers distributed 5,410 doses to four centers in Houston, with 3,000 doses going to the Harris County Jail, 1,000 doses to Methodist Hospital, 810 doses to Rice University, and 600 doses to LBJ Hospital and Ben Taub Hospital. After Moderna provided "updated guidance" to the county saying that the remainder of the doses could be re-refrigerated, it was determined that they would be administered later to people on a waitlist, per normal procedure.

Hidalgo said county health officials have been doing an incredible job working to keep people safe throughout the pandemic, and Monday was no different. "It's a point of pride that this was figured out that it was dealt with, and it should be a point of pride to our partners," she said.