As millions of people wait for their turn to receive the novel coronavirus vaccine, small amounts of the valuable doses have been constantly wasted across the United States.
It is a bleak reality that experts always recognized was going to happen. Thousands of doses have been wasted in Tennessee, Florida, Ohio, and many other states.
The reasons range from poor record keeping to hundreds of doses being accidentally thrown away.
However, it is unknown how many doses of the vaccine have been discarded, despite local authorities saying that the number remains low.
Of course, waste is common in vaccination campaigns worldwide. For example, millions of doses of the flu vaccine are thrown away each year.
According to an estimate by the World Health Organization, up to half of the vaccines from previous campaigns at the international level have been wasted due to poor handling of them, because no one asked for them or because they expired.
The terms are used interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing.
By comparison, the wastage of the novel coronavirus vaccine appears to be quite small, although the US government has yet to release figures that reveal the magnitude.
Authorities have said that could change soon, as more information is gathered from the states.
Meanwhile, state health agencies are far more likely to tout how quickly vaccines have been delivered, while remaining silent about the number of doses that end up in the trash.
A week after receiving the Moderna vaccine, Raquel Rizo tested positive for the coronavirus, something that experts say is possible.
The Ohio Department of Health declined to use the term “wasted” when The Associated Press asked for a total number of doses that have ended up in the trash.
Instead, an agency spokeswoman said the state monitors “useless” vaccines reported by state providers.
“With 3.2 million doses administered through March 9, 2021, the 3,396 unusable doses reported by state providers represent about 0.1% of administered doses, less than the CDC’s expectation of 5% unusable doses,” Alicia Shoults of the Ohio Department of Health said in an email, using the acronym for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say that all three are highly effective.
In Tennessee, wasted, ruined, or useless doses are not publicly reported in the state’s online COVID-19 vaccine registry.
And in Florida, the state’s director of public health, Dr. Scott Rivkees, recently called for an audit after more than 1,000 doses of damaged vaccines were reported last month in Palm Beach County.
When a review of that audit was requested, the state said this week it would provide those documents through a public records request, which it was continuing to develop.
The federal government has also refrained from publishing the figures for spoiled or useless doses, although it noted that states should report such waste.
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