Wisconsin hospital tosses 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine due to ‘human error’

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Advocate Aurora Health said 50 vials, containing 500 doses, of the Moderna vaccine were removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight Saturday, Dec. 26 at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.

Officials say as a result of “unintended human error”, the vials were not placed in the refrigerator after temporarily being removed to access other items.

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

Officials say 17,000 team members were successfully vaccinated over the last 12 days.

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

Hayat pharmacy CEO Hashim Zaibak said given the limited number of vaccines available, Wisconsin cannot afford to lose many.

“Obviously at this point, losing any number of vaccine is significant,” Zaibak said.

But he said this is the kind of error that can happen regardless of the size of the operation.

“Human error, which is going to happen in any process,” Zaibak said. “Any time there is a human involved, things like that can happen.”

Marquette clinical lab sciences professor Dr Nilanjan Lodh says the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at about the temperature of a commercial freezer, or the molecules will fall apart.

“The molecule itself is pretty vulnerable and easily degradable, so you need that ambient temperature to keep the integrity of the vaccine intact,” Nilanjan said.