Alabama’s state health officer reported on Friday that tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines had been wasted despite the fact that millions of residents have not gotten their doses yet.
Scott Harris said during a news conference that a whopping 65,511 doses had expired in Alabama.
“As of right now, we've had wastage of J&J about 7,000 doses, of Moderna about 11,000 doses, and Pfizer about 47,000 doses, and that's because a lot of Pfizer expired at the end of July, so that number’s jumped quite a bit,” Harris said.
He said while some of the shelf life for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been extended by several weeks, he called the wasted vaccines “extremely unfortunate.”
“But 65,000 doses have been wasted. That's extremely unfortunate when we have such a low vaccination rate, and of course, there's so many people in the world that still don't have access to vaccines, so that's really a shame,” Harris said.
Per data from Johns Hopkins University, about 39 percent of Alabama’s population has been fully vaccinated, which is roughly about 1.7 million people.
Harris said that 1.5 million doses were immediately available for Alabamans who wanted to get vaccinated, a stark contrast to countries like Thailand where residents are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get vaccinated.
The state health officer said Friday that the state was concerned about the large numbers of unvaccinated residents as Alabama continues to see a surge of new COVID-19 cases. About 3,817 new cases were reported in the state on Wednesday, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In contrast, new cases were in the low hundreds in mid- to late-June.
Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyTrump seeking to oust Republican Alabama governor over canceled rally: report Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandates Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? MORE (R) late last month said it was “time to start blaming the unvaccinated” regarding the number of high COVID-19 cases in the state.
Despite this, the state has also passed protections for those who choose not to get the vaccine, illustrating the awkward dance that politicians are having with businesses and individuals who refuse to get vaccinated while also seeing a surge of new cases within their communities.