Fifty vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine had to be thrown out in Wisconsin this past weekend due to “human error.”
TMJ4 Milwaukee, a local NBC-affiliate station, reported that the incident occurred at an Advocate Aurora Health medical center in Grafton, Wis., when an employee took the vials out of a storage freezer to remove another item. The employee then mistakenly failed to return the vials to the freezer.
“We learned that about 50 vials of Moderna vaccine were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight,” an Advocate Aurora spokesperson told TMJ4. “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 spokesperson added, “We are clearly disappointed and regret this happened.”
Speaking to The Hill, a spokesperson for Advocate Aurora Health said, “The vaccination program at Aurora Grafton continues uninterrupted because we were able to redirect vaccine supply from other Aurora sites, and we expect additional shipments in the near future.”
The spokesperson said the hospital did not currently have any vials of the Pfizer vaccine, the only other COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for use in the U.S.
Though it does not need to be stored at the extreme sub-zero temperatures that Pfizer’s vaccine requires, Moderna’s vaccine must be stored at temperatures between minus 13 degrees and 5 degrees Fahrenheit or in temperatures between 36 F and 46 F for up to 30 days before it must be thrown out.
In its fact sheet about the Moderna vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration notes that the vaccine’s specific requirements are due to the fact the medicine does not contain preservatives and the particles inside are highly fragile. Once the vaccine has been thawed, it cannot be refrozen.
Like Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s immunization is administered in two doses spaced about one month apart. Each vial contains multiple doses.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 84,825 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been allocated for the state. The most recent data from the department states that 10,358 vaccines have been administered so far.
Updated at 5:42 p.m.