Vaccine wastage led to delays in COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Arizona's La Paz County

We are learning more about why La Paz County, located along the Colorado River in Western Arizona, delayed the start of its vaccine rollout.

According to data obtained via a records request we obtained, the county's first vaccine shipment had to be disposed of.

"You see how it’s marked on the red X. That’s how we received our shipment," said Jamie Enriquez, a nurse with the La Paz County Health Department. "The tag alert may have malfunctioned with that vaccine, but at that point, it was not useable."

We have obtained a waste sheet via the public records request, which states the doses were spoiled. The county's health director, Marion Shontz, said they had to delay appointments a week.

"It was very disheartening for a very small county that’s ready to go to not be able to go," said Shontz.

La Paz County has now delivered 4,500 doses to residents.

Other counties have reported vaccine wastage

La Paz County is not the only entity to have wasted COVID-19 vaccine doses. Other state partners have reported 128 more wasted doses.

Some waste is expected for any vaccine, but at state-run sites like State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, no waste or return forms have been filed yet.

Will Humble with the Arizona Public Health Association has a tough time believing there hasn’t been any waste at the major sites.

"I just find it completely unbelievable in the tens hundreds of thousands of vaccines given at these large, high-volume state vaccination centers, that there has never been any unusable vaccine that need to be discarded?" said Humble.

Officials at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium site say because they are not a 24/7 facility, they will drive vaccines to the State Farm Stadium facility to make sure it doesn’t expire.

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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)