UPDATED 12:35 PM PT – Friday, January 1, 2021
Authorities in Wisconsin are investigating a Milwaukee pharmacist accused of tampering with over 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses. On Thursday, the unidentified employee at the Aurora HealthCare Medical Group was taken into custody.
The president of the medical group, Jeff Bahr, claimed the pharmacist removed 57 vials, enough for about 570 doses, from storage for two nights which rendered them ineffective. The two leading vaccines in the U.S. require units be refrigerated at low temperatures.
Bahr said the employee initially claimed it was an “accident.” However, officials grew suspicious after further investigation.
“Over the subsequent days, as we continued our internal review, we became increasingly suspicious of the behavior of the individual in question,” Bahr said. “The individual was suspended and, after multiple interviews over the course of the week, admitted yesterday to intentionally removing the vaccine from refrigeration. Additionally, the individual admitted to removing and returning the vaccine to the refrigerator overnight on the evening of December 24 into December 25.”
Although health officials said there are no safety concerns, they have notified patients who received the spoiled doses and are monitoring them closely.
Local authorities explained the pharmacist could face felony charges including reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription and criminal damage to property.
“This individual is no longer employed by us. We also notified the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Grafton Police Department and the FBI. This is now a law enforcement matter,” Bahr stated.
Officials have not yet disclosed a possible motive.