BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — A recent audit of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) from the North Dakota State Auditor’s office has identified thousands of COVID-19 vaccines that were improperly stored or handled, which could possibly lead to ineffective responses in the immune system.

During the audit, it was noted that the NDDoH was unable to provide enough evidence that the physical count of COVID-19 vaccines and storage locations were routinely compared to records, (which is meant to be done frequently in order to confirm that inventories are correct and that vaccines are being stored properly).

In addition, the temperatures of some vaccines were also a concern. Vaccine products are temperature sensitive and must be stored and handled in appropriate temperatures to both ensure accuracy and minimize vaccine waste — with different brands of vaccines having different storage requirements. Digital temperature readings were unable to be matched to 144,988 doses of vaccines in transport. Many written temperature logs were reported to be missing entirely, or not completed correctly.

According to NDDoH records, at least 1,912 Moderna vaccines were stored in incorrect temperatures before being administered to patients. Over 12,828 doses of Pfizer vaccines were also issued from storage with missing temperature data. If vaccines like these are not stored correctly, they may not be able to effectively trigger an immune response and provide protection against the COVID-19 virus. Revaccination may be required in some cases.

“We recognize that the pandemic brought on immeasurable challenges to all medical staff across the state,” said ND State Auditor Joshua Gallion in a press release. “Even in stressful situations, it’s critical for guidelines to be followed to ensure the efficacy of vaccines. The highest standard of care is required when administering healthcare — including vaccines — to citizens.”

The full report of the audit on the North Dakota Department of Health can be viewed here. All questions regarding administered COVID-19 vaccines must be directed to the NDDoH due to the confidential nature of health records.