Missing vaccine vials prompts investigation into Fla. FD

The St. Petersburg Police Department launched an investigation into St. Petersburg Fire Rescue after the vaccines went missing


Josh Fiallo and Josh Solomon
Tampa Bay Times

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The St. Petersburg Police Department has launched an investigation into the city’s fire department after vials of coronavirus vaccines went missing, according to city and police officials.

Few details about the investigation were released by officials, including how many vials of the vaccine were stolen, where they were stolen from, or when they were taken.

The St. Petersburg Police Department has launched an investigation into St. Petersburg Fire Rescue after vaccine vials went missing.
The St. Petersburg Police Department has launched an investigation into St. Petersburg Fire Rescue after vaccine vials went missing. (Photo/St. Petersburg Fire Rescue)

Benjamin Kirby, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, confirmed Friday that an investigation into an official at St. Petersburg Fire Rescue is active.

“We understand an allegation has been made against a fire department official and St. Petersburg police are currently investigating it,” he wrote in an email.

Police Spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said the fire department requested St. Petersburg Police conduct an internal investigation over missing vials. She said she could not provide further details at this time.

Reached by phone Friday, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Chief Jim Large said he could not confirm nor deny whether there was an internal investigation within his department.

”I am not able to confirm or deny whether there’s any investigation,” said Large. “If there was an active investigation, I can’t comment on it.”

Large did say, however, that St. Petersburg Fire Rescue currently helps to staff the vaccine distribution site inside Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg at 2333 34th Street S. The department is not involved with vaccine distribution at any other site in the city.

If the missing vials are confirmed as stolen, it wouldn’t be the first theft of its type in the region.

This week, a decorated Polk County paramedic was arrested and a longtime captain with the county’s fire-rescue department was arrested after the captain persuaded the paramedic to help him steal coronavirus vaccines.

Similar crimes have occurred elsewhere in the state, including in Gadsden County — where two vials were stolen from the Florida State Hospital, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

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(c)2021 the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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