UPDATE: Thousands of Moderna vaccine doses not harmed by temperature change

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 4:15pm

    UPDATE, JAN. 28: Maine CDC received word early Thursday afternoon the vaccines are viable, and there was no compromise of safety or efficacy.

    The Maine CDC, according to its Director Dr. Nirav Shah, is working with the recipients of the vaccine to get the shots into arms of the public as soon as possible. 


    Original Story, Jan. 19: 

    AUGUSTA — A shipment containing 4,400 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that recently arrived in Maine may have to be discarded, according to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, speaking during his Jan. 19 afternoon media briefing. 

    The doses may have to be discarded after the doses’ shipping container exceeded the mandated minimum cooling temperature at which the doses must be kept. 

    Maine CDC began fielding notifications late Monday morning, and throughout the rest of the holiday, from several vaccine sites that their shipment of the Moderna vaccine boxes were displaying a red X, indicating the shipment ventured outside the minimum temperature at which the vaccine needs to remain. 

    Upon being notified by these sites, Maine CDC contacted each of the additional sites scheduled to receive the shipment to check their shipments, as well. 

    By the end of the day, Maine CDC was notified 35 of the 50 shipments entering the state Monday had temperature issues. 

    Maine CDC has already been in contact with the U.S. CDC and representatives from Operation Warp Speed about the issue, and learned Tuesday morning Maine was not the only state experiencing this issue. 

    Each site is receiving replacement doses of the Moderna vaccine today and tomorrow, and has been asked to set aside the possibly spoiled does so that the U.S. CDC can conduct an investigation into those doses and determine whether those doses are still safe to use or if they must be discarded. 

    During his Tuesday briefing, Dr. Shah explained each vaccine shipment originates from an out-of-state manufacturing facility and is directed to a distribution site within Maine. From there, a courier service transports vaccine shipments to locations selected by the Maine CDC. 

    Each shipment box displays either a green checkmark, indicating the minimum temperature was maintained the entire time the doses were in the container, or a red X, indicating the minimum temperature was not maintained at some point during the shipment. 

    The U.S. CDC is currently investigating what went wrong, and where the issue stemmed from, according to Dr. Shah. 

    “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 Dr. 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.”