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10/11 NOW records request shows tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines have been trashed across the state

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Gone are the days where vaccine hunters are searching for appointments, hoping to get a dose of the COVID-19 shot as soon as possible.

Now, pharmacies may see just a few people getting it every day.

“We typically do five to 20 a day,” Bryce Walker, pharmacists with Kohll’s RX said.

With a short shelf life this means some doses are thrown in the trash.

“They’re only good for about six hours after you first use one dose so depending on the time of day when customers come in we’re sometimes forced to waste a few doses,” Walker said.

Walker said Kohll’s typically throws away about five doses each day. When that happens, they’re supposed to report it to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

10/11 NOW requested those reports and learned Nebraska has thrown out 52,452 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 14, 2020. That’s about 3% of the more than two million doses the state has administered.

The report shows 31,747 doses were tossed because a vial expired before being emptied. 8,500 doses were drawn into a syringe but never given. 808 were thrown away because of a broken syringe or vial. 521 doses have been lost or are unaccounted for. 10,874 doses were wasted for another reason.

Walker said pharmacies do their best not to waste doses.

“If we have a vial about to expire we ask people in the stores if they’ve gotten it, we ask any customers that come in,” Walker said.

But at the end of the day, said it’s worth cracking open a new vial no matter what.

“Because if someone comes in and gets turned away there’s a chance they’ll change their mind so we’d rather get that one person vaccinated to help the overall health of the community.”

Walker said he is hoping they’ll learn the shelf life of the vaccine is longer with time.

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