Pharmacist arrested, accused of intentionally tampering with COVID-19 vaccines

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Updated: 8:00 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020 

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The pharmacist who admitted to tampering with nearly 60 vials of the Moderna vaccine at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton has been arrested, according to police. 

The pharmacist has also been fired by Advocate Aurora Health Hospital in Grafton. Advocate Aurora leadership said the former pharmacist originally told them they removed the doses from the refrigerator on accident. Storing the vaccine for an extended period of time above it's required storage temperature causes the molecules inside to degrade.

“The individual was suspended, and after multiple interviews over the course of the week, admitted yesterday to intentionally removing the vaccine from refrigeration,” Aurora Health Care President Dr. Jeff Bahr said.

Officials say 57 people received the vaccines that were intentionally spoiled by the now former employee. Health officials say the vaccine will likely be less ineffective but not harmful. Bahr said there has been no evidence the suspect tampered with the doses in any other way, or that they sabotaged any additional doses.

“Despite the actions of one individual, the vaccine program here, and across the country, remains safe and critical to getting us out of the pandemic.”

Police said the 46-year-old man Grafton man destroyed approximately 570 doses of the vaccine. Police reported he “knew the spoiled vaccinations would be useless and that people who received the vaccinations would think they had been vaccinated against the virus when in fact they were not.”

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Updated: 3:43 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020 

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The President of Aurora Health Care Medical Group, Dr. Jeff Bahr, held a virtual news conference Thursday, Dec. 31 to address the discarded vaccines incident. 

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Updated: 5:11 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2020 

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Grafton Police Department released a statement regarding the incident where an employee at Aurora Medical Center tampered with COVID-19 vaccine vials forcing the clinic to discard nearly 500 doses. 

Grafton Police say the incident is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Administration and the police department.

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Posted: 7:24 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020 

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A now former employee at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton "intentionally removed" 57 vials of a COVID-19 vaccine from refrigeration earlier this week, forcing the clinic to discard nearly 500 doses. 

Aurora Medical Center officials made the announcement on Wednesday, Dec. 30, after the Moderna vaccines were removed from the pharmacy refrigerator by the individual on Dec. 26. 

Officials said in a news release: 

"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..." 

Aurora Medical Center says the individual is no longer employed by them. 

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