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Some 500 Coronavirus Vaccine Doses Intentionally Destroyed, Hospital Says

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine must be kept between 36 and  46 degrees Fahrenheit. The vials can remain at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
Charlie Riedel
/
AP
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine must be kept between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The vials can remain at room temperature for up to 12 hours.

A now-former employee at a Wisconsin medical center "intentionally removed" 57 vials of a coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration, forcing officials to throw out nearly 500 doses, according to an internal investigation.

Aurora Medical Center officials had initially suspected the Moderna vaccines, which must be kept between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, had inadvertently been left out at the Grafton hospital on Dec. 26. But an investigation found the individual "acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration," officials said Wednesday.

The medical center, which is part of Advocate Aurora Health, has notified "appropriate authorities for further investigation" and added that the individual is no longer employed by Aurora.

"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."

The vials can remain at room temperature for up to 12 hours. That allowed clinicians to salvage some of the doses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Aurora Health Care said, more than 21,000 health care workers had received the first of two injections at the company's centers.

A total of 47,157 coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Wisconsin since vaccinations began over the last two weeks, according to state data.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
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