Vaccine residues could increase in the coming weeks as officials change tactics to inoculate harder-to-reach populations, public health experts say.
“I think we have reached a place where, to continue to be successful with vaccination, we will have to tolerate some waste,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief physician of the Association of States and Territorial Health Officials. People who don’t want to travel to a mass vaccination site may go to a primary care doctor or a smaller rural pharmacy that may not be able to use all doses on an open road, he said.
Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said concerns about waste should not be overcome by gunfire.
“If anyone is there, they need to be vaccinated,” he said. “In our effort not to waste a dose, we may be missing out on opportunities to get vaccinated because we don’t have 15 people in a row or 10 people in a row.”
CDC numbers do not match state data
The federal government collects vaccine waste information through federal systems called VTrckS, which handles orders and shipments, and Tiberius, a Department of Health and Human Services platform that oversees distribution. VTrckS can exchange data with state and local vaccination records that track who has been shot, but some states rely on manual data entry, Hannan said.
The 15 states not included in the CDC data are Alaska, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas. The District of Columbia is also missing.
Of these jurisdictions, 11 provided data to KHN: Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and DC.
Most of those who reported minimal waste to KHN: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and DC together recorded only 1,090 missed doses.
In others, the figures are more significant. On March 19, the Maryland Department of Health said it knew of 3,175 missed doses.
Texas had the most wasted doses of any state, either in the CDC data or in the data states provided to KHN. Her records show 9,229 doses wasted on March 26, placing her third in waste behind CVS and Walgreens.