Local providers, health department trying to use up vaccine supply before it expires

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local providers and the Coastal Health District are stuck between a rock and hard place as they try to make COVID-19 vaccines more convenient for people who want them.

Officials are also trying to make sure vaccines don’t go to waste as demand for the shot plummets across the state.

Just a few months ago, Coastal Care Partners had to turn people away who showed up looking for leftover vaccines.

Now, they’re running out of time to use up their current supply.

“We have a lot of Pfizer and it expires in August,” said Scott Pierce, co-owner of Coastal Care Partners, “and so we are thinking about how quickly can we use 3,500 doses between now and August.”

Pierce says they’ve ramped up their vaccination efforts and are even partnering with local jails to keep shots from going to waste.

“Drop off has been incredible,” said Pierce. “You know, right now we have to really search out people who want the vaccine.”

Demand is down across the board, but Georgia has managed to keep the percentage of unused or expired vaccines well under 1 percent.

The sum total is 7,851.  That’s out of more than 7 million doses shipped to Georgia since the vaccine rollout in December of 2020.

Dr. Lawton Davis, director of the Coastal Health District, says over the past four weeks, the Chatham County Health Department hasn’t wasted a single dose.

He says that’s thanks to a regional effort to shift supply to areas with higher demand.

“Nobody wants to waste it, you know, we are sitting here now with vaccine, some with expiration dates at the end of this month,” said Davis. “So we are trying to use it up.”

Because most vials of the vaccine contain multiple doses and no preservatives — it can be hard to estimate how much you’ll need for a given day.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now calling it “missed opportunity,” not waste.

“If you have to open a vial and pull two doses and you have eight leftovers, well, I guess they’re looking at that as the cost of doing business these days,” said Davis.

Davis says now that Pfizer has been granted emergency use authorization to administer vaccines to those 12 and up, he’s hoping to see an uptick in demand.

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