Temperature questions shut down vaccine clinic at Springfield Hospital Differing monitor readings throw doubt on efficacy of 860 doses

Nurse Sue Pollard administers the Covid-19 vaccine to fellow RN Linda Seiple at Springfield Hospital. Photo provided.


By Cynthia Prairie

©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Kathleen Bell was standing “right at the door” of Springfield Hospital at 9 a.m. Wednesday waiting to enter to get her second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, when a hospital worker came out to announce that they clinic was now closed and those scheduled would be contacted for their followup shots at a later date.

Bell, a health care worker who got her first dose on Dec. 30, headed back through the be-puddled parking lot to her car, before returning to work in a nearby town.

Two hours later, the cause for the delay was announced by Human Services Secretary Mike Smith during the state’s bi-weekly Covid-19 press conference.  He announced that 860 doses of the Moderna vaccine  at Springfield Hospital were stored at 9 degrees celsius, one degree above the 8 degree celsius limit to preserve it from spoiling. He added that 400 of those doses were for the final second shots that people like Bell had been waiting for.

Smith, who said he was being open about the information, which was just coming in by text as he was speaking to the media, added that Moderna indicated that those doses would have to be destroyed.

However, Springfield Hospital spokeswoman Anna Smith, in an interview this afternoon, said that there are actually three temperature monitors in the vaccine refrigerator, two belonging to the hospital and one belonging to the state. “We have two different sets of data that don’t align and because of that we halted the clinic, as unfortunate as it is,” she said.

Both of the hospital’s monitors “recorded less than 8 degrees. The state monitor registered 9.1. Out of an abundance of caution we had to figure out what was going on,” she said, adding that those 860 doses are still being refrigerated and may be used if the hospital’s monitors prove to be accurate. “This is just a pause. We don’t know if the vaccines are no good. We are putting patient safety first and are just being cautious.”

During the press conference, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said, “In any large vaccination program, these things happen.” He added, “We have exquisite sensors on such refrigerators.”

According to both Mike Smith and Anna Smith, who are not related, the state Health Department was sending someone to Springfield today to check the monitors. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Health Department thanked the hospital for its “proactive approach” in handling the situation and said it is “continuing to review” the situation, “including whether the doses are or are not viable.” To read the full statement, click here.

Anna Smith said that once the hospital saw the discrepancy between its monitors and the state’s, the hospital notified the state then began contacting the 240 people who were scheduled to come into the clinic today for either their first or second doses. Most were reached, but some, like Bell, had already left for the clinic.

“We have no reason to believe that our monitors are not correct,” said Smith. “We have not thrown away the vaccines,” pending the determination on the monitors.

Smith added that if necessary the vaccines will be replaced “vial for vial.”

And as for those who were scheduled to get their second shots, she said, “We’ll do what we need to do to make this happen, to make sure that everyone is vaccinated within the proper time frame.” Smith added that she didn’t believe this will impact other scheduled clinics.

Hospital clinics were set for this Friday and next Tuesday and the fate of those will depend on what happens with these vaccines, “once we have confirmed go forward instructions from the state,” Smith said.

The Health Department statement said, this situation “will not impact vaccination appointments scheduled this week for those age 75 and older or the availability of second doses for those already vaccinated.”

So far the hospital has administered 2-shot doses to 375 people and one shot doses to 777.

— Shawn Cunningham contributed to this article.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Covid 19 CoverageFeaturedLatest NewsSouthern Vermont activity

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

RSSComments (3)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Susan Brace says:

    Are you publishing the update? Moderna has said that these doses are still viable and will not be wasted.

  2. Why aren’t the monitors fit with alarms? If the temperatures are that critical– perhaps actual people should monitor the monitors! What does “We’ll do what we need to do to make this happen” mean? How can losing 860 vaccines not impact the other scheduled clinics?