Dozens of vaccine vials discarded due to ‘human error’ at Wisconsin facility

Someone removed about 50 vials of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration and didn't return them to cold temps.

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An employee at Advocate Aurora Health in Wisconsin removed dozens of vials of coronavirus vaccine from refrigeration and failed to return them to cold temperatures, causing them to be discarded. 

The Moderna vaccine vials were thrown out after the “human error,” according to officials with the health center in Grafton. 

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at a distribution center. Dozens of vials of the Moderna vaccine were thrown out in Wisconsin after “human error,” officials said. (Photo by Paul Sancya – Pool/Getty Images)

“We learned that about 50 vials of Moderna vaccine were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight,” a spokesperson told local news outlet TMJ4

“While some of the vaccine was administered to team members on Dec. 26 within the approved 12-hour post-refrigeration window,” continued the spokesperson, “unfortunately, most of it had to be discarded due to the temperature storage requirements necessary to maintain its viability.”

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The health care system said it has vaccinated over 17,000 members of its staff in less than two weeks. 

“We are clearly disappointed,” the spokesperson said, “and regret this happened.” 

According to the Food and Drug Administration fact sheet about the Moderna vaccine, it does not contain a preservative and must be thawed prior to being administered. After it is thawed, it can not be refrozen. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have to be refrigerated. However, the Moderna vaccine does not require sub-zero storage and has a longer shelf life.  

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Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Human Services says it is in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution guidelines, which means only frontline health care providers and nursing facility staff and residents are currently being vaccinated. 

Nearly 40,000 people in the state have received the first doses of the vaccine. 

It has been noted that as the federal government distributes more doses to states, those numbers will increase. 

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Moderna’s vaccine was approved for emergency distribution on Dec. 18, just days after the approval of the Pfizer vaccine. 

In his announcement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said, “Through the FDA’s open and transparent scientific review process, two COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized in an expedited timeframe while adhering to the rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization that the American people have come to expect from the FDA.”

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