December 3, 2021

‘It’s inevitable’: Thousands of coronavirus vaccines will expire or go to waste as demand decreases, experts say

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Usually, if vaccines are in particular freezers they’ve a shelf life of six months, however as soon as the vials are opened they’ll solely final a pair hours.

Nationwide, we’re confronted with two points; some vaccines are sitting in freezers and expiring, and others are going to waste as a result of the whole thing of the vials usually are not getting used.

Thousands of Pfizer vaccines on the verge of expiring simply obtained a three-month extension from the FDA.

Luz Pena: “Your pharmacists are reporting doses being thrown out, or even some of them expiring?”

Susan Bonilla: “Certainly, some of the earlier shipments have an expiration date and they are expiring,” mentioned Bonilla, CEO of the California Pharmacists Affiliation.

The bulk of Pfizer vaccines have been set to expire on August 31. Final night the FDA prolonged that shelf life by three additional months after reviewing the most recent Pfizer knowledge.

“They are recognizing that the vaccine efficacy maintains for longer so the shelf life is actually longer,” mentioned Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Well being officer.

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Information obtained by ABC10 in San Diego via a public information request, factors to 126,278 COVID-19 vaccine doses going to waste in California from December to June.

“There are batches, we are talking about thousands of vaccines that would’ve expired a month and two months from now,” mentioned Dr. Willis.

Luz Pena: “Is it inevitable that at this point vaccines will be thrown out?”

Dr. Willis: “Yes, It’s inevitable that there will be some vaccines that have been distributed down into health care centers and into counties that because of the limited demand in vaccine right now, will expire.”

Dr. Willis attributes this waste to two elements; a lower in demand and “The most common wastage right now is vials that have been opened for one patient and the remaining five or six doses in that vial end up to being used and discarded.”

Susan Bonilla, CEO of California’s Pharmacists Affiliation says they wrestle with throwing away vaccines every single day, however don’t have any selection.

“It is a moral dilemma when you have somebody presenting themselves to get a vaccination. You know that if you open the vial you may not be able to use it all. Right now the direction from California Department of Public Health to our pharmacists is get that shot in the arms even it means that you are not going to be able to use the whole vial,” mentioned Bonilla.

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As soon as a vial is opened vaccines lose their efficacy after a pair hours. At Stanford Well being Care they seen a small uptick in vaccine waste within the final month.

“Across the system we probably average about 5-10 doses being wasted “mentioned Deepak Sisodiya, Director of Pharmacy for Stanford Well being Care.

We contacted each Bay Space county to get the most recent numbers on vaccine expirations and wastage.

From July twentieth to August twentieth, Contra Costa County reported about 12% of doses from un-punctured vials at county-run vaccine clinics went unused. That is a complete of 1,512 vaccine doses.

“The unused doses are primarily from vials which are opened, but there are not enough patients available to use the entire vial before the vaccine expires. Once a vial is punctured, the vaccine doses are only good for 2-24 more hours depending on the brand. Because we believe it’s so important that everyone get vaccinated, we will open a new vial even if it’s likely some doses will go unused,” Contra Costa County Well being Public Data officer.

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Since February 2021, San Mateo County Well being has discarded 215 vaccine doses due to expiration.

The San Francisco Division of Public Well being mentioned over electronic mail:

“SFDPH does not have any Pfizer or Moderna vials due to expire in the next month. We currently have 1,305 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that will expire on September 21 and are on track to use most of this supply before the expiration date. SFDPH has never had to waste its own supply due to expiration. We are regularly taking in short-dated vials from other counties through the vaccine marketplace to utilize as much of the state’s supply as possible. We also work with other health systems and providers in the City to right-size their vaccine inventories if they have doses at risk of wastage.”

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To keep away from extra waste, Dr. Willis says Marin County stopped requesting vaccines from the federal authorities and counties throughout the state are sharing doses via a vaccine market.

“The doses that we don’t order if they stay at the federal level they are able to be redistributed across the nation,” mentioned Dr. Willis.

A painful actuality provided that in lots of components of the world individuals do not have entry to the vaccines. Some well being care experts hope extra vaccines will be used within the upcoming months as boosters will be wanted.

“Certainly it’s going to help. It’s a win-win in terms of using vaccines that would’ve have otherwise be wasted and offering people the protection of a booster dose,” mentioned Dr. Willis.

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