Precious coronavirus vaccine doses are worth their weight in gold and will continue to be until the supply meets the large and urgent demand.
Even so, some doses in Massachusetts and across the country are going to waste due to no-show appointments or broken freezers — except when quick and effective planning is in place to make sure every drop is used properly.
Around nine Moderna doses were wasted at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center on Christmas Eve when some workers didn’t show up for their appointments, according to CEO Sue Joss, as reported by NBC 10.
In Norwell, shots were given out to firefighters after a nearby nursing home found it had leftover vaccine.
A Northern California hospital quickly vaccinated 850 people after a freezer that was holding the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines failed, prompting officials to do an emergency distribution of the vaccines before they spoiled.
The shots went out at lightning speed to nursing homes, jail inmates and county workers.
Unforeseen mistakes and accidents are going to happen with a historic and massive vaccine rollout, so it’s crucial a backup plan is in place to make sure vaccine doesn’t go to waste.
Vials of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine have to be used within six hours after dilution and cannot be refrozen. After the first dose of Moderna’s vaccine has been drawn, the vial also has to be thrown out within six hours and cannot be refrozen.
Overall, the U.S. has administered 4.73 million shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, but that’s just about a third of what’s been distributed.
In Massachusetts, 78,643 total doses have been administered and as of Tuesday there were 328,000 doses shipped to providers in the state, according to figures from the COVID Command Center.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance states, “Careful planning is important to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine is not wasted.”
It says in the rare instance that vaccine is going to expire, providers can “use your clinical judgement to administer the vaccine to a person in another priority group who is closest to the current priority group.”
Health and Human Service Sec. Marylou Sudders said in a Monday press conference that organizations are collaborating to make sure shots are not thrown out, “We all understand how important these vaccines are and nobody wants to waste.”
People in priority groups need to get vaccinated first for a reason, but even using a dose on a member of the general public is better than it going to waste.
Federal, state and local governments have had months to plan vaccine distribution and administration. We have all waited so long for this moment, so let’s make sure solid plans are in place to use every single shot.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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