Medical center says employee ‘intentionally’ removed 57 vials of Moderna vaccine from fridge. Local police says FDA and FBI helping investigate.

Moderna
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are loaded into a truck for shipping at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
  • In a press release issued Wednesday night, Aurora Health said that an employee at their Grifton, Wisconsin, clinic voluntarily removed dozens of vaccines from refrigeration and was fired for doing so.
  • Over the weekend, Aurora initially said the incident was a matter of human error, but issued a new statement after an internal investigation.
  • The Grafton Police Department issued a statement late Wednesday night confirming that the FBI and FDA are assisting with their investigation into the employee.
  • The Moderna vaccine vials can stay at room temperature for up to twelve hours and must be stored at between 36° to 46° Fahrenheit.

An employee at the Aurora Medical Center-Grafton in Wisconsin removed 57 doses of the Moderna vaccine from a clinic refrigerator "intentionally" and did not return them, the company said, forcing it to discard at least 500 doses.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the healthcare provider said that an employee voluntarily removed the vaccines from the fridge and was fired for doing so.

Over the weekend, Aurora initially stated that the incident was a matter of "human error." 

"We learned that about 50 vials of Moderna vaccine were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight," a spokesperson told WTMJ-TV on Monday. "While some of the vaccine was administered to team members on Dec. 26 within the approved 12-hour post-refrigeration window, unfortunately, most of it had to be discarded due to the temperature storage requirements necessary to maintain its viability."

But by Wednesday evening, Aurora released a statement that said that after an internal investigation, the employee intentionally removed the vaccines and did not return them.

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 this was caused by inadvertent human error. The individual in question today acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration," Aurora's Wednesday statement said. "We have notified appropriate authorities for further investigation. 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."

The Moderna vaccine vials can stay at room temperature for up to twelve hours but must be stored at between 36° to 46° Fahrenheit.

Aurora Health Care added that more than 21,000 healthcare workers had received their first of two Moderna injections. 

The Grafton Police Department issued a statement late Wednesday night confirming that the FBI and FDA are assisting with their investigation into the employee.

When reached by Business Insider for comment, an Aurora Health Care spokesperson said more details would be shared tomorrow.

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