Hundreds of doses of Moderna’s CCP virus vaccine were destroyed after a cleaner in Boston accidentally turned off the freezer, while thousands more were possibly ruined by temperature change in Maine.
“On Tuesday, January 19, 2021, VA Boston Pharmacy staff discovered that a freezer at the Jamaica Plain campus failed. As a result, 1,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine stored in the freezer were compromised,” Kyle Toto, the public affairs specialist at VA Boston Healthcare System, said in a statement to news outlets on Thursday.
Moderna vaccine doses are frozen between -13 and -15 degrees F, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The doses then can be frozen or stored between 36 and 46 degrees F for up to 30 days, the agency says (pdf).
The freezer at the Boston pharmacy “was in a secure location and had an alarm system installed,” said Toto. “The plug was found loose after a contractor accidentally removed it while cleaning.”
Toto said the incident is being investigated.
“Replenishment doses are in process and we do not foresee disruption of our vaccination effort,” Toto added.
Separately, in Maine, around 4,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine may have to be discarded due to a change in temperature, said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah.
“This was not something that occurred on the Maine CDC side but rather something that occurred during the packaging and shipping of the vaccine,” Shah said, reported NECN.
“Our goal among all of this is to make sure vaccine comes into the state is safe, effective, and viable before it goes into any arms,” said Shah. “This news is concerning, but it’s important to note this is how the system works. There are numerous checks along the way to ensure it is safe and effective, as well as viable.”
The CDC on Friday also said that severe allergic reactions to Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine appear to be quite rare.
Based on the data, the CDC said anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, occurred at a rate of 2.5 cases per 1 million shots administered.
The agency cautioned that the risk of anaphylaxis was difficult to compare to non–COVID-19 vaccines because it is still so early in the vaccination program.
The CDC said the characteristics of severe allergic reactions to Moderna’s vaccine were similar to those reported with the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE.
Earlier this month, the CDC reported severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech shot occurred at a rate of 11.1 per 1 million vaccinations.
Reuters contributed to this report.