- In a press release released Wednesday night, Aurora Health, a staff member at the Grifton, Wisconsin, clinic said they had voluntarily removed hundreds of doses of vaccine from the refrigerator and been discharged for doing so.
- Over the weekend, Aurora initially said the incident was a matter of human error, but made a fresh statement following an internal investigation.
- The Grafton Police Department issued a statement late Wednesday evening confirming that the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration were involved in the investigation of the employee.
- Moderna vaccine bottles can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 hours and must be stored at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
An employee at Aurora Medical Center-Grafton, Wisconsin, “purposely” removed 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine from a hospital refrigerator and did not return them, the company said, forcing him to discard at least 500 doses.
In a press release published on Wednesday, the health care provider announced that an employee had voluntarily removed the vaccines from the refrigerator and was fired for it. It was announced on Thursday that the person concerned had been arrested.
Earlier on the weekend, Aurora said the incident was a matter of “human error”.
“We learned that about 50 vials of Moderna vaccine were accidentally removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight,” a representative told WTMJ-TV on Monday. “While some of the vaccine was administered to team members within the approved 12-hour post-cooling window on December 26, most of the vaccine unfortunately had to be discarded due to the temperature storage requirements necessary to maintain its viability.”
However, on Wednesday evening, Aurora released a statement according to which an internal investigation found the employee intentionally removed and not returned the vaccine bottles.
The incident resulted in more than 500 doses of the vaccine being discarded, Aurora Health added.
“We immediately launched an internal review and were led to believe that this was caused by accidental human error. The person in question today admitted that they purposely removed the vaccine from the refrigerator,” the Aurora statement said from Wednesday. “We have notified the appropriate authorities for further investigation. We are more than disappointed that this person’s actions will delay more than 500 people receiving their vaccine. This was a violation of our core values, and the person is no longer with us. “
Moderna vaccine bottles can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 hours, but must be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aurora Health Care added that more than 21,000 healthcare workers had received their first of two Moderna injections from the hospital system.
The Grafton Police Department issued a statement late Wednesday evening that the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration were assisting their investigation into the employee.
When asked for comment by Business Insider, an Aurora Health Care representative said that further details would be announced Thursday.
At a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Jeff Bahr, President of Aurora Health Care Medical Group, announced that the person had been arrested and gave an overview of the investigation.
“We became increasingly suspicious of the behavior of the person concerned,” said Bahr. “The person was suspended and, after several interviews during the week, was allowed to take the vaccine out of the refrigerator.”
During an internal investigation, Bahr admitted that the pharmacist took the vaccine out of the refrigerator twice between December 24 and Christmas Day.
Bahr added that on December 26, 57 people were vaccinated, but since the vaccine was purposely removed from the clinic’s refrigerators for hours, it was tainted and likely less effective.
“The 57 recipients of these vaccinations were notified,” said Bahr. “There is currently no evidence that the vaccinations are harming them.” Bahr declined to offer more information on the pharmacist’s motive.
The pharmacist, who was not named during the conference, is currently in the Ozaukee County Jail. Following Thursday’s arrest, Grafton police recommended crimes such as reckless security endangering, adulteration of a prescription drug, and criminal harm.
“Grafton detectives point out that the person knew the tainted vaccinations were useless and that people who received the vaccinations would believe they had been vaccinated against the virus when they weren’t,” said the Grafton police in a statement released Thursday.
Police also estimated the tainted Moderna vaccine doses were worth between $ 8,000 and $ 11,000, adding that the FBI and FDA are still investigating the matter.
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