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Aurora pharmacist arrested for intentionally spoiling coronavirus vaccine

Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 31, 2020

GRAFTON — Grafton Police have arrested the Aurora Health Care pharmacist who intentionally spoiled more than 500 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, officials said.

He has been arrested on charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property. He is currently held at the Ozaukee County jail. The identity of the pharmacist is being withheld at this time.

The value of the spoiled vaccines is estimated to be around $8,000 to $11,000, police said.

Grafton police said the pharmacist, "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."

Last week, an Advocate Aurora Health employee intentionally removed 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration. It spoiled over 500 doses of the vaccine.

On Thursday, the President of Aurora Health Care Medical Group said 57 people did in fact receive the vaccine after it was left out for the longer than appropriate time. The president said that there is no health harm to getting the spoiled vaccine. He added it was either ineffective or noneffective. He said Moderna confirmed this as well.

There is no known motive as to why the pharmacist did this.

Officials said no other vaccines were tampered with.

"Even a few doses wasted just seems like such a tragedy. There’s so many people who could’ve used that," said Dr. Jeff Pothof, Chief Quality Officer for UW Health.

Dr. Pothof, who is not associated with Advocate Aurora Health, said they deal with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and the supply is handled under robust security protocols including constant surveillance.

"It’s not to say Advocate Aurora didn’t have these processes in place. I think at some point if you do have someone who you thought was a trusted employee who is acting with just lone intent it can be very hard to stop that one person from doing some thing that really kind of screws it up for everybody else," said Dr. Pothof.

The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin released the following statement in response to the news:

The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin expresses deep disappointment in hearing the news of an individual deliberately wasting doses of the Moderna vaccine. The actions of this individual should not reflect on the thousands of healthcare professionals that are committed to safely and quickly vaccinating our colleagues and patients.

At PSW, we believe that, together with our colleagues in healthcare and public health, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play a vital role in expanding access to immunization services. Vaccines recommended by the CDC are safe and effective and vaccination is our way out of the pandemic.

As this most unique of years draws to a close, we are focused on the inspiration we see in the everyday heroics of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other healthcare professionals that have served patients throughout this pandemic.

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