A Wisconsin hospital has fired an employee whom it says acted "intentionally" in removing 57 vials of COVID-19 vaccine from refrigerated storage last week and leaving them out overnight.
The vials, produced by Moderna, contained 10 vaccine doses each. The vaccine must be refrigerated at prescribed temperatures to remain effective, and can be out of refrigeration for only 12 hours before they must be discarded.
Health care workers had enough time to vaccinate some people with the affected doses before the 12-hour window expired, but more than 500 of the doses had to be trashed.
The hospital, owned by Advocate Aurora Health, said it was first "led to believe" the incident was an accident, as the employee originally said they took the vials out to access something else in the refrigerator and forgot to return the vials. Now the company says that on Wednesday, the employee admitted to leaving the vials out on purpose.
"We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic," the company has said. "We are more than disappointed that this individual's action will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine."
Advocate Aurora Health reported the incident to local police on Wednesday. The FBI is now investigating.