As demand for COVID-19 vaccine drops, millions of doses going unused

25 April 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Fewer people are lining up for a COVID-19 shot and it’s leading to millions of COVID vaccines sitting on shelves, expiring.

ABC News reported that in North Carolina, the state stockpile is holding 856,000 COVID-19 shots, while 1.7 million have been thrown out either after they expired or were improperly used.

Steve Adkins, owner of Health Park Pharmacy in Raleigh said in a lot of cases, doses have to be tossed if not enough people are able to use up an opened vial.

Adkins said his team is working to be as efficient as possible and avoid wasting vaccines, opening appointments for first doses and booster shots on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Oftentimes, if doses have to be tossed, he said it’s because once a vial is opened, the whole thing must be used within 12 hours.

“As far as the providers that are administering vaccines, they’re not being negligent, they’re not grossly throwing out waste,” said Adkins. “At least providers we’ve worked with in the past and folks that we know out in the community they’re just trying to do their due diligence and make sure folks have vaccine available when they need it.”

Since the initial rollout of COVID vaccines, the NC Department of Health and Human Services has worked with county health departments across the state to transfer doses that are set to expire.

NCDHHS told ABC11 on Monday that there are 856,950 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the state program; 16,153,433 doses have already been administered as of April 7.

Since the inception of the COVID-19 vaccine program, there have been 1,712,151 doses that have expired or were in a vial that was opened and couldn’t be used, NCDHHS added.

“NCDHHS is invested in ensuring that healthcare providers have the tools they need when they need them as they support residents in determining vaccination decisions,” the agency said in an email to ABC11. “NCDHHS is committed to supporting providers in offering comprehensive, high-quality care and fostering a routine vaccination culture within our communities. A crucial part of this strategy is ensuring that there is a vial in every fridge, so families have access to vaccination in settings where they are the most comfortable. By having a vial in every fridge, we ensure that providers never miss an opportunity to counsel patients and vaccinate against COVID-19 regardless of the ever-changing recommendations.”

NCDHHS added that COVID-19 vaccines are still the best protection from severe illness, hospitalization or death.

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