154 COVID vaccine doses wasted in CT so far, but expected to rise

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A total of 154 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been wasted in Connecticut so far, according to the state, though that number likely will go up as demand dips and priorities shift.

“At this time, vaccine wastage has continued to be extremely low,” said state Department of Health spokeswoman Maura Fitzgerald. “Most of these are a result of extra doses remaining in a punctured vial at the end of the day when there have been no-shows or cancellations.”

Demand for COVID vaccines may be waning, but as long as the vials stay sealed and in freezers there’s little concern about vaccines hitting an expiration date and being wasted in large numbers, according to Ohm Deshpande, a physician leader for Yale New Haven Health’s vaccination program.

“I’m not that worried about it right now. I’m sure at some point I will be,” he said. “They don’t turn into pumpkins at midnight. At some point, we are going to get into that issue where they expire, but we’re not there yet.”

Vaccine providers report wasted doses to DPH, though those providers who receive vaccine directly from the federal government, such as pharmacies, do not report waste to the state.

“Our providers have averted many wasted doses by canvassing local businesses or individuals in the area to find arms for additional vaccine that may be available at the end of the day,” Fitzgerald said.

As of Monday, the state said it has administered nearly 3 million total doses of the vaccine, a number that includes both first and second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Though wasted doses have so far been low, that number is expected to rise as demand for COVID vaccines slows across the state.

Minimizing waste has been a core directive for providers. Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said during a news conference Monday that providers “only open the vials that they expect to be used.”

But priorities are shifting as demand exceeds supply.

“If they need to open another bottle to get another person vaccinated then they should go ahead and do that,” Geballe said.

Deshpande said he expects “to have a little bit more waste.”

Until now, Deshpande said Yale has been wasting about two doses a week. With priorities shifting, the health system may end up tossing “10,15, 20 doses rather than two, probably,” he said.