Advocate Aurora Health provided more information regarding what happened after 57 vials of their Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were found left outside a refrigerator at their Grafton medical center last Saturday, leading to the firing of a pharmacist.
Doctor Jeff Bahr, President of the Aurora Health Care Medical Group, says it was a pharmacist technician who found the vials during the early morning hours of December 26. That person returned them and informed their superiors.
“In the subsequent hours clinical leaders confirmed with one another,” says Dr. Bahr, “and based on the information available determined the vaccine was still able to be administered on the morning of December 26, given the 12-hour period of viability after removing from refrigeration.” 57 people were given vaccine doses before the rest of them were thrown out, totaling over 500 doses.
Aurora’s internal investigation focused on the pharmacist who admitted to removing the vials, claiming it was an inadvertent mistake. Doctor Bahr said they became more suspicious of the person based on multiple interviews and the person’s behavior. After the pharmacist was suspended, they admitted Wednesday to have removing the vials intentionally, more than once.
“The individual admitted to removing and then returning the vaccine to the refrigerator overnight on the evening of December 24 into December 25,” says Dr. Bahr. “What this means is that the 57 vaccinations that were administered on December 26 were rendered less effective, or ineffective. There is no evidence that the individual in question tampered with the vaccine in any way other than removing it from refrigeration.”
Doctor Bahr says Moderna has told them the 57 people who received doses are not facing any medical risk for getting them, and they are working with them and the Food and Drug Administration to determine what future steps may be needed for these people to ensure they get the full effect of the vaccine.
As for the pharmacist in question, who was fired by Aurora Wednesday, Doctor Bahr says they have contacted Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Grafton Police, and the FBI on how to handle any future investigations. “This is now a law enforcement matter,” says Dr. Bahr.
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