Five hundred doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine had to be discarded Wednesday after a Wisconsin-based hospital said an employee intentionally removed vials of the vaccine from the refrigerator.
Advocate Aurora Health told Fox News that it initially believed the act was an error, but the employee of Aurora Medical Center “today acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.”
Aurora officials originally said the employee removed 57 vials of the vaccine from refrigeration and forgot to put them back.
The Moderna vaccine must be kept between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit and has a 12-hour window once it has been thawed, according to NBC News.
Each vial contained 10 doses of the vaccine and most had to be thrown out.
The company said that the employee’s actions were “a violation of our core values” and the employee is no longer with the company, Fox News reported.
“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic,” the company said.
“We are more than disappointed that this individual’s action will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.”
The local Grafton Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the incident.
The Grafton Police Department says it received information from Advocate Aurora about an employee tampering with COVID-19 vaccine vials.
Police say they are investigating the incident along with the FBI and FDA. pic.twitter.com/TlGvWGDDfl
— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) December 31, 2020
Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University, told The Washington Post that medical providers will have to reassess who has access to the vaccines.
“Hopefully, this is a one-off, but I’m sure places will now have to think about whether those handling the vaccines are trusted, in addition to making sure supplies are under camera surveillance,” she said.
Wisconsin health department officials have tried to keep the vaccines secure and did not disclose where the bulk of the materials would be received.
“This is precious vaccine,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, said on Dec. 14. “We do not want to create any security risks.”
The vaccine is not yet widely available and so far only about 2.8 million people have been vaccinated, according to NBC.
Advocate Aurora Health said it has vaccinated over 21,000 health care workers so far.
“It is disappointing that any COVID-19 vaccine was wasted in Wisconsin,” Health Secretary-designee Andrea Palm told The Post.
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