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How the Cincinnati Health Department makes sure COVID-19 vaccines don't go to waste

Cincinnati Health Department
Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 23:14:44-05

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Health Department's nursing director, Virginia Scott, says her staff is working long days to make sure not a single coronavirus vaccine goes to waste.

"I look at it as if it is liquid gold,” she said of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines her department has begun to distribute.

That means there’s a time-sensitive challenge every vaccine provider shares.

"You have six hours from the time that the needle goes into that vial to the time that it needs to be going into someone's arm,” she said.

The CHD uses a color-coded system to keep track of when vaccines are thawed. And when they have more shots than arms, Scott, who lost an uncle to COVID-19 late last year, said the phone calls begin.

"Any of the other physicians, doctors, dentists -- who can I call, so that I can ensure that we do not waste a dose?" she said.

That’s in line with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s guidance, giving providers the option of administering the vaccine to those outside the current priority group.

"That's the one thing we don't want to see,” DeWine said Thursday. "We do not want to see any waste."

DeWine said the state has administered 72% of the vaccine it has on hand, adding that he'd like to see that closer to 85%.

"This is valuable,” he said of the vaccine. “This is human lives at stake and we cannot waste it."

MORE: What to know about signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine