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Kawasaki gov't disposes of 6,396 doses of COVID-19 vaccine due to freezer failure

Pfizer Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine is seen in Fukuoka on April 15, 2021. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

YOKOHAMA -- The Kawasaki Municipal Government announced on June 13 that a total of 6,396 doses of vaccine for the coronavirus had been discarded because the temperature of the ultra-low temperature freezer where the inoculations were stored rose and the vaccine thawed.

    According to the municipal government, on the morning of June 13, an alarm sounded from the freezer in which Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine for use by elderly care facility users and others were being stored. The freezer is usually set at minus 70 to 80 degrees Celsius, but when the thermometer records were checked, the temperature had risen from around 2 p.m. on June 11 and reached 9.1 degrees Celsius at around 3 p.m. on June 12. Then it had frozen again. The freezer is believed to have been defective and the city, located south of Tokyo, replaced it with a new one.

    Pfizer's vaccines are forbidden to be used after being refrozen once thawed. The manufacturer of the freezer announced on June 12 that some defective products could cause the temperature to rise, and when examined, found that this was the case with the freezer in Kawasaki. The manufacturer is currently verifying the cause.

    The city also discarded 150 doses of vaccine on May 29 due to a rise in the temperature of the refrigerator used for thawing. City officials say they will take more thorough measures to prevent a recurrence, such as periodically checking the temperature of the freezer and securing spare vaccine doses.

    (Japanese original by Daisuke Makino, Yokohama Bureau)

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