HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The State Department of Public Health is addressing a temperature variation involving 600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford.
The variation occurred overnight Feb. 19 to Feb. 20 when a freezer wasn’t properly closed and reportedly rose above the temperature range recommended for vaccine storage.
An alarm monitoring the internal temperature in the freezer did turn on, but because it was overnight, the alarm was not heard.
Upon discovery on Feb. 20 that the safety door lock had failed on the freezer, Charter Oak staff segregated the 600 doses and contacted DPH officials and Moderna to assess the viability of the doses of vaccine.
Saturday, Feb. 27, DPH announced it had received word from Moderna that the doses were still viable and can be administered. In an email from Moderna late night Friday, Feb. 26, Moderna said that the doses were “stable and good to use through 3/19/21.”
“All of our vaccine providers have been very vigilant about ensuring that no vaccine doses are wasted and all shots get into people’s arms. Charter Oak did the right thing by immediately segregating these doses, contacting DPH and Moderna to determine if they would still be usable, and instituting new safeguards and policies to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I’m glad that we know now the doses are still effective and can be administered to individuals,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford.
DPH added, “Prior to this notification, Charter Oak had not administered any of the 600 doses to patients. There were never questions or concerns about the safety of any vaccine administered by Charter Oak Health Center nor any other vaccine provider in the State of Connecticut.”
In a statement from Charter Oak Friday,
COHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center approved by both state and federal entities to administer the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. COHC began administering the vaccine on December 24, 2020 and to date, has administer over 2500 doses of the vaccine from both its main site and mobile clinics throughout the city of Hartford and surrounding communities.
On Friday, February 19, 2021, at approximately 5:30 pm, COHC experienced a temperature excursion with our pharmaceutical grade freezer where the Moderna vaccine is properly stored. The excursion resulted from a slight gap in the freezer when the door was not shut tightly. This in turn caused the freezer temperature to gradually rise above the recommended range and to continue rising overnight thereby causing the vaccine then stored in the freezer to remain out of the recommended temperature range for approximately three hours when discovered early morning on Saturday, 2/20/21. Both CT Department of Public Health and Moderna were immediately notified of the temperature excursion.
Moderna has a twelve-hour allowable window for a temperature excursion related to its vaccine. Acting upon its advice, no vaccine has been “tossed out and none of the vaccine in question has been used. Moderna instructed that the affected vials be labeled, – DO NOT USE PENDING INSTRUCTIONS FROM MODERNA – maintained, and stored separately from all other vaccine. COHC is in full compliance with those instructions.
COHC continue to receive its allocated vaccine supply from the state of Connecticut enabling it to continue vaccinating large number of persons from underserved communities, seven days a week, uninterrupted. There has been no gap in neither our testing nor vaccination services.
We are committed to our community and we are not deterred.– Adrian A. Wood Nichelle A. Mullins, COHC Board President President & CEO