The health director in Tennessee’s largest county resigned Friday after the state health department found that 2,500 Covid-19 vaccine were either wasted or expired and two children were “inappropriately vaccinated” at a county vaccination site.
A total of 2,500 doses were either expired or wasted in Shelby County over a 20-day period from February 3 to February 23, according to a timeline of findings released by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) as part of an investigation.
Additionally, two children were “inappropriately vaccinated” for Covid-19 at a Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) vaccination site on February 3 with no report made to state or federal partners, according to TDH’s timeline.
The same day, a volunteer was suspected of stealing multiple doses of vaccine at a different vaccination site without a report being made, according to the TDH timeline.
TDH also found that the county had 51,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses in its inventory, which amounts to an excess of about 30,000 doses, according to a statement from the agency.
The statement also said that Shelby County lacked “standard operating procedures for storage and handling of the vaccine,” had insufficient record keeping and had “no formal process for management of soon-to-expire vaccine doses.”
TDH spokesperson Shelley Walker told CNN in an email Friday that there was no additional information on the incident where the children were vaccinated, and that the department’s investigation is ongoing.
On Friday, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced that Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter had resigned. During a Shelby County Commission special meeting, Harris said March 15 would be Haushalter’s the last day in the office.
CNN has reached out to Haushalter, the health department, the mayor’s office and other county officials for comment.
Shelby County is the most-populated county in Tennessee and home to Memphis, the state’s second-most populous city.
According to the TDH timeline, Haushalter reported on February 19 that more than 1,000 doses of the vaccine had been discarded due to expiration. The state then sent health personnel to review handling procedures and assess the SCHD’s inventory of vaccines, the release said.
On February 22, the state learned of an additional 840 expired doses not disclosed by SCHD, according to the state health department’s timeline. On Wednesday, the state transferred authority for vaccine management for Shelby County to the city of Memphis.
The state health department’s timeline lists nine separate days in which vaccine doses expired or were wasted.
State health personnel are now embedded at SCHB for technical assistance and to monitor its pharmacy operation, and the state has requested additional help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to TDH’s statement.
During a Friday afternoon press conference, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said the actions of the SCHD are disappointing.
“My reaction is real disappointment primarily disappointment for the people of Shelby County,” Lee told reporters. “How do we make sure that the people that live in this county do not miss any opportunity for this life saving vaccine?”
The SCHD are not currently managing any storage or distributions of vaccines, according to Lee.
“That speaks to the great deal of concern that we have for it, that those vaccines have been transferred, moved to another location,” Lee said, adding that “the distribution is being handled through separate channels because of the great concern we have.”
Vaccinations were still being delivered in Shelby County, according to the state health department’s website.
“Vaccine distribution and administration will continue as scheduled, and Shelby County will continue to receive the full population-based allocation of Covid-19 vaccinations,” the website says.
Lee said that the state has notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the issue and the FBI “will make decisions about who will be responsible for that investigation.”
“I certainly think that what has happened in the Shelby County Health Department provides a lot of concern. And there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. At the very least, I can say that there has been a real lack of leadership,” Lee said.