The Moderna vaccine must be kept frozen or refrigerated until it is used, though it does not require subarctic temperatures like the Pfizer vaccine does. The hospital has said that 57 people received injections of the compromised vaccine, but that Moderna had reassured officials that they would not harm the individuals who received them.
Hospital officials at first believed that the vials were left out inadvertently, but upon further investigation determined that the act had been intentional. They said the pharmacist was no longer employed.
In a July divorce hearing dealing with multiple issues, including whether Mr. Brandenburg should be required to move out of the family home, he talked about the pressure of his job, working from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. “It’s not easy, especially with all of the other stress going on, in order to get enough sleep to function for work,” he said. “And if I make mistakes at work — I’m a hospital pharmacist at Grafton, right? — I’m responsible for life and death issues.”
The incident raised new fears of inadequate security for the vaccine. Last Thursday, in a video call with reporters, Jeff Bahr, the president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group, defended the hospital system’s protocols. “It’s become clear that this was a situation involving a bad actor, as opposed to a bad process,” he said.
The scarcity of supply has led some officials to store the vials at undisclosed locations, install security cameras and tracking systems or restrict access. Early in December, Interpol warned nations to prepare for attempts by organized crime rings to target vaccine supply chains. But most of the attention has focused on attempts to steal or divert the vaccine, not tamper with it.
Wisconsin experienced a surge of coronavirus cases in the fall, and at times has been one of the hardest-hit states in the nation relative to its population. Transmission has since slowed a bit, but the state is still reporting about 43 new cases a day for every 100,000 people. At least 5,264 Wisconsin residents have died.