MILWAUKEE – Lawyer Aurora Health Says Employee Now Fired intentionally withdrew 57 vials of Moderna coronavirus vaccine from a refrigerator last weekend, making them inefficient and thrown away.
Each vial contains enough vaccine for 10 vaccinations.
Initially, Aurora was “tricked into believing” the deletion was a mistake. But on Wednesday, the employee “admitted to intentionally removing the vaccine from the refrigeration,” according to a statement from the health care provider.
The Grafton Police Department said in a statement Wednesday evening that it was informed by Aurora shortly after 6 p.m. “of an employee who tampered with the vials of the COVID-19 vaccine” at his hospital.
The statement goes on to say that the incident is under investigation by the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration as well as the Grafton Police Department.
Aurora said the employee’s action was “a violation of our core values”.
The employee was fired and Aurora said it had notified “the relevant authorities for further investigation”.
Aurora said no other employees were involved and that she planned to release more information on Thursday.
His statement continues:
“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that the action of this individual is causing a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.
The vials were collected on Friday and most were thrown away on Saturday, according to an earlier statement from Aurora.
Clinicians were still able to deliver some of the vaccine from the vials within the allowable 12-hour window after refrigeration, but had to discard most of it, according to an earlier statement from Aurora.
Moderna vaccine can be stored at freezer temperature for up to six months and is stable at normal refrigerator temperature for 30 days, making it easier to transport than Pfizer vaccine. But once thawed, the vaccine cannot be refrozen.
At room temperature, Moderna vaccine can be stored for up to 12 hours.
When the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine – which must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures – arrived in Wisconsin in mid-December, public health officials did not disclose the eight regional centers where they were being stored, citing “security reasons” and stating they had consulted the Department of Homeland Security.
“It is a valuable vaccine. We do not want to create security risks,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the State Department for Health Services, said on December 14.
Since then, thousands of doses of the less fragile Moderna vaccine have been sent to the state. It’s unclear if most are stored in hospitals and employee clinics, or in centralized hubs.