Nearly 2,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Compromised’ at Jamaica Plain VA Hospital

Nearly 2,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine went bad on January 19 after a freezer at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center came unplugged, according to a spokesperson for the VA Boston Healthcare system.

“The freezer was in a secure location and had an alarm system installed,” the spokesperson said in a statement to the JP Gazette.

“The plug was found loose after a contractor accidentally removed it while cleaning. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident and why the monitoring and alarm system did not work as expected.”

The spokesperson said that 1900 doses of the vaccine are no longer viable, but “replenishment doses are in process and we do not foresee disruption of our vaccination effort.”

Vaccinations began last week at rest homes and assisted living facilities in the JP area, including the Mount Pleasant Home and the Goddard House, as part of the state’s phased vaccination plan.

City Councilor At-Large and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu told reporters at a press conference on January 29 that “the most urgent step” is to “end the pandemic by getting residents this protection of the vaccine.”

Wu has recently called for a vaccination clinic in every zip code in Boston to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, as well as for some to provide the vaccine at varying hours to accommodate all.

She also said that “building trust with communities, particularly our most impacted communities,” is imperative, and “trust requires transparency with planning.”

Wu said that Boston and the federal government need to directly reach out to and communicate with residents regarding the vaccine.

“The vaccine spoilage issue is a logistical one,” she said, adding that the logistical issues are ones that need to be “front and center” as vaccine distribution locations need to be able to store doses of the vaccine safely and for an appropriate amount of time so none are wasted.

“That all needs to be planned out right now,” she said, “not at the point where people are coming to receive the vaccine.”

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