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More than 82 million COVID vaccine doses have gone to waste: report

A dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at Lurie Children’s hospital, Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

More than 82 million COVID-19 vaccines were discarded by pharmacies and U.S. states, territories and federal agencies, according to a new report. 

NBC News reported that 82.1 million doses of the shot were wasted from December 2020 through mid-May. 

Oklahoma and Alaska wasted more vaccines than other states, with 28 and 27 percent of their respective doses being wasted, the network added. 

Overall, the wasted vaccines accounted for more than 11 percent of those distributed by the federal government, NBC added, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Among pharmacies, CVS and Walmart threw away significant quantities of doses in part because of the large numbers of shots they handled. Health Mart, DaVita, Rite Aid, Publix and Costco threw away fewer overall vaccines but still wasted a quarter of the shots they received, the report said.

One pharmacy, CVS, said that it has prioritized vaccinating people who come in for walk-in appointments over wasting vaccines.

“​​We often have to open a multidose vial at the end of the day for a single walk-in,” CVS said in a statement to NBC. 

“Those vials have a very limited shelf life, which unfortunately means unused vaccine will be disposed of. The same challenge is faced by others administering vaccinations,” it added.

In September, NBC reported that at least 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been wasted.

As of Monday, the CDC has vaccinated more than 258 million Americans and recorded more than 84 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.


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