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1.23.21 – NBC Boston

A freezer plug was loose after a contractor accidentally removed it while cleaning, according to a VA spokesman, compromising 1,900 doses of the coronavirus vaccine

What they need to figure out is whether or not their alarm system actually works. Apparently, the freezer was still functional (or would have been if it was plugged in), but when its high-temperature alarm should have gone off after being unplugged for a while, nobody was notified. That was the real technical failure here.

Nearly 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine spoiled this week at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center in Boston, a spokesperson confirmed, at a time when vaccine doses coming to Massachusetts are down 73%.

The Veterans Affairs Boston Pharmacy staff on Tuesday found out that a freezer at the Jamaica Plain campus failed, ruining 1,900 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A freezer malfunction discovered Tuesday at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center in Boston ruined 1,900 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A plug was loose after a contractor “accidentally removed it while cleaning,” according to the VA spokesperson. The freezer was in “a secure location” and had an alarm system installed.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident and why the monitoring and alarm system didn’t work. Replenishment doses are in process, the spokesperson said, and the VA does not “foresee disruption of our vaccination effort.”

But the number of doses shipped to the Bay State is down this week by 73%, according to the Department of Public Health, with only 52,225 doses coming in to the commonwealth.

The latest vaccine report from the state shows that 86,230 doses were given this week, for a total of 359,919 doses in all. The report no longer breaks down the data by first and second dose.

Thursday’s report did note the arrival of 157,300 Moderna doses on Jan. 12 that wasn’t included in last week’s report.

The pace that vaccines are being administered dropped by 24% in the weeklong period covered by Thursday’s report, Jan. 13-19, compared to the week before.

The two coronavirus vaccines approved so far in the country’s fight against the pandemic, from Pfizer and Cambridge-based Moderna, both require that people receive two doses, which are recommended to be spaced out over three or four weeks.

President Joe Biden outlined his plan to ramp up vaccinations across the U.S. Thursday, vowing “help is on the way.”

Vaccines are the key to getting society back to normal, since they have been found to offer the greatest protection from serious complications in people who are infected with the virus. The widespread distribution of the vaccines will trigger the final phase in Massachusetts’ reopening plan, when restrictions will be lifted.

Vaccinations began in Massachusetts last month. See the Baker administration’s plan for rolling out the vaccine here.