A Wisconsin hospital worker has been fired for intentionally removing COVID-19 vaccine from a refrigerator – forcing the hospital to throw out more than 500 doses. Aurora Medical Center – Grafton, outside Milwaukee, said Wednesday that 57 vials of Moderna vaccine were taken out of a pharmacy refrigerator and left overnight.
The hospital launched an investigation and was led to believe inadvertent human error was to blame, reported CBS Chicago. But on Wednesday, the worker who was responsible admitted to doing it on purpose, Advocate Aurora Health said.
Police in Grafton said in a statement that the department, FBI and Food and Drug Administration are "actively" investigating the case. Police said Thursday morning that no other information would be immediately released, and declined to say if any arrests have been made.
"We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic," Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement. "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."
Grafton police said "no comment" when CBS Chicago's Marissa Parra called and asked if they were involved or investigating the incident.
Like the other vaccine approved for emergency use in the United States, made by Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine requires initial transport and storage at deep-freeze temperatures, but can then be stored locally at more typical refrigeration temperatures for several days before use.
Despite federal officials' stated goal of immunizing 20 million Americans by the end of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker only about 12 million doses had been distributed by Thursday morning, and fewer than 3 million had actually been administered.
Officials with Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and Operation Warp Speed — the military-led operation to deliver vaccines across the country — told reporters on Wednesday that the slower-than-expected administration of the shots could be due partly to a lag in reporting, but they acknowledged not all the vaccine doses had reached their intended destinations.
Army General Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, conceded that some of the doses were still "on the road" as he spoke on Wednesday. Nevertheless, he voiced confidence in the government's efforts to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus.
"We are really doing well, in my opinion, in distribution," he said, contradicting the CDC figures by saying on Wednesday that "over 14 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed."
CBSNews.com's Audrey McNamara contributed to this report.
First published on December 31, 2020 / 3:32 AM
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