What happens when COVID vaccine providers don't use all their doses?

Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 18:57:35-05

NORWOOD, Ohio — A CVS customer claims pharmacy employees admitted to throwing away leftover COVID-19 vaccines. The company is hearing a different story from the store's managers but did say that in rare cases, some vaccine doses get trashed.

Matt Moning called it "plain stupidity."

He visited the CVS on Montgomery Road in Norwood on Saturday, when he brought an 80-year-old neighbor to get her coronavirus vaccine. As he waited inside, curiosity over the end-of-the-day leftovers led to frustration.

"I have diabetes, high blood pressure. I'm just a medical mess," he told WCPO. "I figured, well if you don't have an 80-year-old or 70-year-old standing here, I said, you know, will you call me and give me the shot so you don't throw it away?"

Moning said he was surprised by the employee's response.

"He says, 'You know, even if I had it, I wouldn't give it to you,'" Moning said.

In a statement, CVS told WCPO: "We have no reports or evidence of vaccine being improperly disposed of at our pharmacies. Our pharmacy teams remain diligent and trained to ensure waste is prevented and excess doses do not remain at the end of the day. In the rare instance that unused doses become no longer clinically viable and cannot be refrozen, they are either utilized elsewhere for a member of an eligible population or disposed of per (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and manufacturer guidelines."

Dominic Hopson is an assistant health commissioner for the Cincinnati Health Department. He agreed that waste of COVID-19 vaccine doses is rare.

"We're very proud of that. We have a strong system in place," he said. "It's difficult, but it takes a lot of planning.

CHD counts doses, calls eligible patients on waitlists, and, as a fall-back, calls first responders who still need the vaccine. CVS lacks the same access to police, fire fighters or paramedics and insists they are following all the rules.

"That's government red tape at its best," Moning said. "My thing is, we live in the greatest nation in the world, and they can't figure out how to give a shot? It's pretty easy. If you know you're going to open a vial at four o'clock, you make sure that you got five people lined up to give that shot to."

Several CVS stores across Ohio will be getting extra doses of the vaccines soon, a company spokesperson said Friday. It will be coming from nursing homes that did not use all of their allotment.