What Happens If You’re Injected With a COVID-19 Vaccine That’s Not Cold Anymore?

After a Wisconsin pharmacist allegedly destroyed over 500 vaccines that were still given to patients, people are wondering if the warm shots were harmful.

Vials of COVID-19 vaccines sit on a medical table.

After a Wisconsin pharmacist allegedly let over 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine go bad, Dr. Oz wanted to know, what happened to the people who still received those shots?

Moderna used special technology to make its vaccine much faster than traditional vaccines. But this made them very fragile, which is why the vaccines have to be kept at cold temperatures.


Moderna's vaccine arrives frozen and then can be kept refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees F, according to the CDC. Guidelines state the vials cannot be refrozen once thawed, and they cannot be left at room temperature for more than 12 hours — or they become ineffective. The Wisconsin pharmacist, Steven Brandenburg, allegedly removed the doses from the refrigerator for several hours.

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So what are the health effects if a person is given a warm shot that was not meant to be kept at room temperature?

The short answer: there is no physical harm to the patient, according to both Moderna and the hospital where Brandenburg worked.

"That's the good news," correspondent Mara Schiavocampo told Dr. Oz.

However, the danger comes from a person unknowingly receiving an ineffective vaccine and assuming they are immune — when they really aren't.

"Those people who believe they received the vaccine are walking around with this false sense of security feeling protected from a deadly disease when they have no protection. So the hospital is working with everyone who received Brandenburg's vaccinations to make sure they're properly vaccinated," Schiavocampo said.

In addition, Moderna is still determining how much damage was truly done. The company suggested the 12-hour guideline was just an extra-cautious measure to assure the vaccine's quality, and that it could actually remain effective for up to 24 hours at room temperature. Moderna is running tests on the doses to determine this.

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