LONDON, ONT. -- A 'cold chain incident' is being blamed for the loss of valuable vaccines used to prevent illnesses including shingles, hepatitis, and diphtheria.

A report to the Board of Health explains how a malfunctioning refrigerator inside the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) spoiled 3,627 doses of non-COVID vaccines with a combined value of $132,891.50.

At 9:34 p.m. on Feb. 9, a temperature alarm was triggered on a vaccine refrigerator.

“A sudden drop in temperature below 0 degrees Celsius had occurred,” reads the report.

Alerted by an answering system, staff returned to the health unit to investigate within approximately 40 minutes.

“The temperature in the refrigerator was confirmed to be at -10 degrees Celsius at that point.”

After consultation with the vaccine manufacturers and the province, $100,000 worth of vaccine was able to be salvaged.

But the remaining spoiled doses were returned for disposal.

According to an incident report submitted to the Ministry of Health, the spoiled vaccines included 895 doses of Td Amsorbed for the prevention of tetanus and diphtheria, 160 doses of Zostavax for shingles, and 160 doses of Engerix B for Hepatitis.

“These vaccines are delivered to health units from the Ontario Government Pharmacy (OGP) and are administered through on-site or mobile clinics, or distributed onward to third parties such as family physicians or long-term care homes,” explains the report.

The value of the loss is borne by the provincial government, and is not a liability to the health unit.

The malfunctioning vaccine refrigerator had been serviced on Jan. 4, 2021.

A replacement has been ordered through a provincial program.