A Wisconsin health-care worker has been fired after admitting they intentionally removed dozens of vials of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine from a pharmacy refrigerator, forcing more than 500 doses to be thrown out.

Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement that the individual admitted to their action on Wednesday after the company was led to believe the incident, which happened last weekend, was due to human error.

“We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine,” the company said.

“This was a violation of our core values, and the individual is no longer employed by us.”

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The company said it has notified “appropriate authorities” for further investigation. It did not explain further why the vials were removed.

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The incident happened overnight on Dec. 26 at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, a town nearly 40 kilometres north of Milwaukee.

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Advocate Aurora Health originally said on Monday that over 50 vials of the Moderna vaccine were removed from a refrigerator to access other items but were not replaced. Each vial contains 10 doses of the vaccine.

“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,” the company said then.

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Wednesday’s statement confirmed a total of 57 vials were removed.

Moderna’s vaccine, which was approved in the U.S. on Dec. 19, needs to be kept at freezing temperatures during storage and in refrigeration prior to being administered.

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Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services says it has administered 47,157 doses of the vaccine as of Tuesday, 6,306 of which were made by Moderna.

The state has been allocated over 265,000 doses of both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and has received nearly 157,000 of those shots to date.

Earlier this month, Trump administration officials said they planned to have 20 million doses of the vaccine distributed across the country by the end of the year. But according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control, just over 11.4 million doses have been distributed and only 2.1 million people have received their first dose.

On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden warned that at the current pace, “it’s gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”

–With files from the Associated Press

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