COVID-19 Vaccine Security Mix-Up Prompts Alerts at Wisconsin Hospitals
Froedtert Hospital staff called authorities when three National Guard members arrived unannounced and said they were there to pick up the vaccine.
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — Three people who identified themselves as members of the National Guard caused a COVID-19 vaccine security scare at Froedtert Hospital.
On Tuesday, the individuals walked into the hospital and told employees they were there to pick up the coronavirus vaccine, reports The News Observer. After being questioned, the trio said they were at the wrong hospital and left. Staff members called local law enforcement and state health officials, explaining they thought the people might be impersonating National Guard troops.
“Because the visit was unannounced and unexplained, we contacted law enforcement as well the state officials overseeing vaccine distribution,” said Froedtert representative Gerry C. Steele.
As a result, the state Department of Health Services issued an alert to vaccine providers to warn them of the potential threat. Other hospitals and healthcare providers also warned their employees of the incident. In one email obtained by WISN, an Ascension pharmacist cautioned staff to avoid letting anyone dressed as a member of the National Guard inside.
However, it turns out the individuals were National Guard members and had gone to the wrong location. According to National Guard spokesman Captain Joe Trovato, nearby Medical College of Wisconsin was expecting a vaccine shipment and had called the National Guard for support. He said the trio got lost and ended up in the wrong building which “raised some concerns, rightfully so.”
In a statement, Froedtert representative Steve Schooff praised hospital staff for speaking up, writing, “We are grateful for the staff members who raised the concern, allowing us to make the appropriate contacts and confirmations.”
The state Department of Health Services released a similar statement, saying, “Even though it turned out to be a false alarm, we feel secure in knowing our partners are taking protection of the vaccine supply seriously. We wanted our partners to be aware of the situation in the event something similar happened to them.”
Wisconsin healthcare providers were already on high alert the past few weeks after a now-former pharmacist at Advocate Aurora Health in Grafton purposely removed more than 500 doses of the vaccine from refrigeration long enough to render them ineffective.
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