11,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses ruined en route to Michigan

The majority of 21 shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday were spoiled en route to Michigan, likely delaying the state’s vaccination efforts this week, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

The vaccine’s distributor, McKesson Corp., notified the state that the majority of the 11,900 doses in the shipments got too cold and are now unusable. The Moderna vaccine is stored and shipped at roughly 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Once on site, the vaccine can be kept at temperatures between 36 degrees and 77 degrees Fahrenheit for up to six hours before being administered to a patient.

The vaccine shipments are equipped with a temperature monitoring device to ensure safe transport. The reason for the temperature drop is currently unknown and under investigation by McKesson, the state said in a press release.

Most of the nearly 12,000 doses were resent on Monday night, the state said, with the rest shipped Tuesday. An additional six shipments were held back to ensure there were no temperature issues, which may delay vaccinations at an additional six vaccine sites this week, MHHS said in the release.

“We are committed to accelerating vaccine delivery as we work to reach our goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders over age 16 as quickly as possible with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said in a statement. “Although it is unfortunate that this vaccine will not be able to be used, we are pleased that the safeguards put into place to ensure the integrity of the vaccine worked. This is the first report of vaccine potentially being compromised during shipment in Michigan and we are working quickly with the distributor to have replacement vaccine shipped out.”

Nearly 1.05 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna have been distributed in Michigan since last month, but fewer than half that figure have been administered to patients. Most counties in Michigan are rushing to vaccinate teachers as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pushing for the return to full in-class learning at schools across the state on March 1.

Those aged 65 and older are also qualified to receive the vaccine across Michigan.

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