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Wisconsin hospital says employee intentionally discarded coronavirus vaccine vials

The Wisconsin medical center where 57 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine were discarded earlier this week said in a statement Wednesday that the employee who removed the vaccines from the freezer did so “intentionally” and was no longer employed by the hospital.

On Monday, hospital officials said that around 50 vials of the vaccine had to be thrown away after an employee at Advocate Aurora Health medical center in Grafton, Wis., “inadvertently” removed them from the pharmacy refrigerator, where the vaccines are required to be housed at low temperatures.

At the time, the incident was attributed to “human error,” but in a statement Wednesday, the medical center said the vials had been removed intentionally. According to the statement, the 57 vials that had been discarded overnight had led to 500 doses of the vaccine being thrown out.

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“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,”  the hospital said in the statement Wednesday. 

“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 hospital added.

The hospital stated that the “appropriate authorities” had been notified for investigation into the incident.

Despite the loss of hundreds of vaccines, a spokesperson on Monday told The Hill that the hospital's vaccine rollout plan had not been interrupted, as vaccines had been redirected from other medical center locations.

According to the most recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 47,147 vaccines have been administered in the state so far.

"We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic," the hospital said.

Wisconsin has confirmed more than 5,000 deaths and more than 15,000 cases since the pandemic began, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.