Local suppliers, health service trying to run out of vaccine supply before it expires


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

Officials are also trying to make sure vaccines aren’t wasted as demand for the vaccine plummets across the state.

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

Now they don’t have 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’re looking at how quickly we can use 3,500 doses by August.”

Pierce says they have stepped up their vaccination efforts and are even teaming up with local prisons to prevent vaccine wastage.

“The fall has been incredible,” said Pierce. “You know, right now we really have to look for the 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 below 1%.

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

Coastal Health District director Dr Lawton Davis says the Chatham County Health Department has not missed a single dose over the past four weeks.

He says it’s through a regional effort to shift supply to areas with higher demand.

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

Since most vaccine vials contain multiple doses and no preservatives, it can be difficult to estimate how much you will need for a given day.

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

“If you have to open a vial and take out two doses and you have eight leftovers, well, I guess they consider that to be the cost of doing business these days,” Davis said.

Davis says now that Pfizer has obtained emergency use authorization to administer vaccines to those 12 and older, he hopes to see an increase in demand.

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