A Wisconsin hospital employee has been terminated after deliberately removing 50 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration, resulting in the loss of approximately 500 doses.
The Aurora Medical Center in Grafton reported that 57 vials of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had been removed from refrigeration and left out.
Advocate Aurora Health officials made a statement on Monday saying that an employee had removed vials from a refrigerator to access other items, failing to put them back overnight on Friday. Officials were led to believe that the failure was due to an “unintended human error” after internal investigations were carried out.
But officials stated on Wednesday that the employee in question had intentionally removed the vials from the refrigerator.
“We immediately launched an internal review and were led to believe this was caused by inadvertent human error. The individual in question today acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration,” Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement.
The statement said that 500 doses of the vaccine had to be discarded and that the vaccine is able to be administered if it has been kept at room temperature for 12 hours, once thawed, however, it cannot be refrozen.
“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that this individual's actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine. This was a violation of our core values, and the individual is no longer employed by us,” officials added in the statement.
The hospital stated that the “appropriate authorities” were notified for any investigation into the incident.
Grafton police said Aurora Corporate Security reported an employee tampering with vials of the vaccine on Wednesday evening.
Wisconsin has administered over 47,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services states that over 40,000 people have been given doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and 6,000 have received the Moderna vaccine.