Every dose of the coronavirus vaccine has the ability to save a life. So it’s incredibly important not to waste one drop. Especially at a time where there aren’t enough doses of it to innoculate the entire country.
A group of Josephine County Public Health employees in Oregon is getting a lot of attention for its dedication to administering every last dose of the vaccine.
On Tuesday, the group of 20 healthcare workers got stuck in a snowstorm on their way from a COVID-19 vaccination event in rural Cave Junction en route to Grants Pass about 30 miles away.
The journey usually takes about 45 minutes but a jackknifed tractor-trailer on the road ahead meant that they were going to be stuck for hours. This meant that the remaining six doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they were carrying would probably expire by the time they’d reach Grants Pass.
Once a vial of the vaccine is thawed from the deep freeze the clock starts ticking on whether it can be administered. But after the vial is punctured is must be used within six hours or it has to be thrown out.
So the team decided to start knocking on the windows of the other stranded peoples’ cars to see if they wanted the vaccine.
“We had one individual who was so happy, he took his shirt off and jumped out of the car,” said Michael Weber, the public health director in Josephine County.
The team also administered a shot to a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office employee who had arrived too late to the Cave Junction vaccination event was was on their way home.
While the efforts of the healthcare team should be applauded they knew they were in a pretty odd situation. “It was a strange conversation,” Weber said. “Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road in a snowstorm and having someone walk up and say: ‘Hey. Would you like a shot in the arm?'”
The workers were able to administer all six doses of the vaccine before it expired.
“Honestly, once we knew we weren’t going to be back in town in time to use the vaccine, it was just the obvious choice,” Webber said. “Our number one rule right now is nothing gets wasted.”
According to Josephine Public Health’s Facebook page, Webber says the impromptu roadside vaccination clinic was “one of the coolest operations he’d been a part of.”
Oregon currently ranks 24th among states in vaccinations administered per capita. The state has vaccinated 325,000 of its 4.2 million residents.
In the end, one question remains: Will the people who were vaccinated on the road have the opportunity to get their second booster shot in a month? Or will they have to wait their turn?