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Nearly 12,000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine were compromised after they dipped below acceptable temperatures during recent transport to Michigan, according to state health officials.
“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has been notified by McKesson that several shipments of Moderna vaccine shipped on Sunday, Jan. 17, had their temperature reported as going out of range and getting too cold,” reads a statement from the health department.
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Health officials said 21 shipments were affected due to the temperature issues, or 11,900 doses. Shipments come along with a temperature monitoring device to track temperatures during transport. McKesson told Fox News it learned of the issue on Monday, and pinned the problem among faulty gel packs used to keep the doses cold.
“We also identified the root cause of the issue – some of the gel packs used to maintain appropriate temperatures during shipping were found to be too cold – and have taken steps to prevent this from occurring in the future,” reads an emailed statement from McKesson.
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, Pool)
Moderna’s vaccine is stable at minus 20 degrees Celsius, but cannot dip to storage temperatures lower than minus 40 degrees Celsius. Once refrigerated, it can last 30 days at 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius. Vials cannot be refrozen once thawed.
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According to Michigan health officials, the company repacked and sent out replacement doses on Monday and Tuesday, with another six shipments on hold to check the vaccines for any issues.
McKesson plans to ship out the doses in the next 24 hours. The bungle delayed vaccinations for at least six vaccine provider sites.
“Recently we were made aware that a number of the Moderna vaccines that were shipped to Michigan were not kept at the appropriate temperature and thus we couldn’t use them,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at a briefing Tuesday.
“That frustrates me when I know we are in a race and every vaccine matters but that’s not something that I could control, that’s not the state of Michigan’s fault, it’s just what happened with the vaccines,” Whitmer said.
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The blunder was just one example of frustrations behind vaccine rollout, Whitmer added, detailing how the state is receiving far fewer doses than initially expected; some 60,000 per week, as opposed to 300,000.
She said the goal is to vaccinate 50,000 people in Michigan each day, which would take about six months to inoculate 70% of the population. If the current “slog” continues, administering 60,000 doses per week, Michigan will take over two years to vaccinate 70% of population.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said the botched shipment marked the first report of potentially compromised doses sent to the state.