Moderna: Springfield’s 860 doses OK to use Covid-19 vaccines reported as 'discarded' were not


By Shawn Cunningham and Cynthia Prairie
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Vaccine manufacturer Moderna and federal officials have determined that the 860 doses of Covid-19 vaccine that were thought to be affected by a temperature change during storage are not spoiled. Although it has been widely reported that those doses were discarded, they continue to be held by Springfield Hospital.

In a press release this evening, the Vermont Health Department said that late this afternoon Moderna informed the state Health Department that all of the vaccine doses are effective and safe for use. The release goes on to say that “given the large amount of vaccine involved and specifics of the situation, state and hospital officials worked with the company for a more comprehensive review”  from which “Moderna determined none of the doses were impacted by temperature inconsistencies and can be used with full public confidence.”

Reports of doses’ demise premature

On  Tuesday, Springfield Hospital had notified the state one of three temperature monitors in the refrigerator holding 860 doses of the Moderna vaccine had indicated a temperature of 9.1 degrees celsius, 1.1 higher than the manufacturer’s limit to preserve the vaccine from spoiling. That monitor belongs to the state. The two other hospital monitors, which registered at an acceptable temperature below 8 degrees celsius, are owned by the hospital. See The Telegraph’s Wednesday article here.

Early Wednesday morning, the hospital canceled its vaccine clinic scheduled for that day, turning away 240 people and throwing doubt on clinics scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29, and Tuesday, Feb. 2. (The hospital has since received more vaccines and announced Thursday that the Friday clinic would continue as planned.)

Then later on Wednesday, during the state’s biweekly Covid-19 press conference, Mike Smith, Secretary of Human Services, announced the spoilage of the 860 doses, 400 of which were slated for the final second shots. He indicated that Moderna had said the temperature rise meant those would have to be “wasted.” But while that dominated the coverage of the 860 doses, the information was not correct.

The hospital was keeping the doses refrigerated as it waited to learn if any monitors were not registering properly. If the state’s monitor was incorrect, the doses would be usable.

On Wednesday afternoon, Springfield Hospital spokeswoman Anna Smith told The Telegraph, “We are awaiting guidance related to the 860 doses being held pending investigation into the temperature monitor variation.”

Questions about the monitors remain unanswered

Despite Moderna’s finding, questions remain about the three monitors that set off this fire storm of confusion.

State representatives had  been expected in Springfield on Thursday to check the monitors. It could not be determined if those monitors were checked and what the outcome of that check was.

And on Thursday night, following the state’s press release, Anna Smith, when asked if the monitors had indeed been checked and what the outcome was, would only say, “Our monitors were measuring within range. There was a discrepancy in the equipment readings which is what caused us to raise the question and it is what was being reviewed.” When pressed, she added, “The monitors did what they were designed to do. They alerted us to raise the question for careful review by the State and the manufacturer, which was the right thing to do.” She referred further questions to the state.

As this story is published, the Health Department has not said whether its monitor – which Commissioner Mark Levine described as “exquisite” on Wednesday  — had read incorrectly. A spokesman said Levine would have more details at Gov.Phil  Scott’s press conference on Friday morning.

Tonight, Levine said, “The public can have confidence in the care and vaccine they receive from Springfield Hospital.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Covid 19 CoverageFeaturedLatest NewsSouthern Vermont activity

About the Author:

RSSComments (3)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Tim Roper says:

    I think this experience speaks well of Springfield Hospital in that when one of the three temperature monitors alerted, they immediately notified the state and stopped administering those vaccines. I suspect that the state’s monitor provided an erroneous reading for some reason, given that the other two were in agreement. It’ll be interesting to learn the outcome of the monitor calibration check which will hopefully be disclosed during today’s press conference, at 11:00am.

    Thank you, “Chester Telegraph” for providing the most timely and accurate coverage of this story.

  2. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Hi Beverly,

    Springfield Hospital never said they discarded the vaccines. That was an error that the state gave out. Springfield Hospital has always contended that they were keeping the doses as the monitors were checked.

    I hope you read our first story closely because it straightened out a lot of misinformation about the situation:

  3. Beverly Hart says:

    I am sorry but this makes me have no confidence in Springfield Hospital. First they say it is discarded, then when it is found out that it is ok, it’s not discarded. Sketchy at best. Easy way to lose trust.