Wisconsin pharmacist arrested for allegedly destroying over 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses

Wisconsin pharmacist arrested for allegedly destroying over 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses
Coronavirus illustration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At a time when as many Americans as possible need to be vaccinated for COVID-19, a Milwaukee-based pharmacist has been arrested and accused of intentionally destroying more than 500 doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.

The pharmacist's arrest was confirmed by police officials in Grafton, Wisconsin, according to National Public Radio. The charges the person is facing include criminal damage to property and endangering public safety.

The Aurora Medical Center reported, in late December, that vials containing Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine disappeared from a pharmacy refrigerator and were left out overnight — which made them unusable, as the vaccine needs to be stored in cold temperatures. At first, the Aurora Medical Center believed that the vaccine doses were destroyed because of a simple mistake. But on Wednesday night, the Center said that the person who destroyed the doses "acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration." And the Grafton Police Department officials said that the pharmacist who was arrested admitted "to intentionally removing the vaccine, knowing that if not properly stored, the vaccine would be ineffective."

NPR reporter Vanessa Romo explains, "During a teleconference Thursday, Chief Aurora Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr told reporters that the former employee deliberately removed the vials from refrigeration on two separate occasions — on December 24 overnight, then returning them to proper storage, and then again on December 25 into Saturday morning."

The Aurora Medical Center, in an official statement, said, ""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 center, according to NBC News, has vaccinated more than 21,000 health workers so far.

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