State urges COVID-19 vaccine providers to ‘not miss any opportunities’, even if doses are wasted


A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s Joint Vaccine Task Force is adopting guidance that urges providers to “not miss any opportunity to vaccinate every eligible person who requests a COVID-19 vaccination.” The same guidance has been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a release, the state says providers can puncture an unused vial even if they don’t have enough people to use each dose. Once they’re punctured, Moderna vials must be used within 12 hours, vials of the Pfizer vaccine have to be used in six hours, while vials of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine must be used in two hours.

“In order to ensure every Coloradan who wants a vaccine can get one, we want smaller providers– including clinics, primary care physicians, and urgent cares– to be able to vaccinate their patients. To make this a reality, vaccine providers can open a vial even if they don’t use every dose,” said Scott Bookman, Incident Commander of Colorado’s COVID-19 response.

The state offered the following tips to avoid wasting doses:

  • Consider establishing and promoting specific days of the week to hold vaccine clinics to encourage larger groups of people to request a vaccine on the same day
  • Vaccinate family members or friends of patients who show up to appointments with patients even if they aren’t a registered patient
  • Continue to reach out to large employers or other community partners to arrange vaccine events
  • Attempt to contact people on waitlists or personal contacts of other people who are getting vaccinated to see if they still need a dose
  • Consider partnering with a public health agency or another clinic that might be able to use any extra doses from a punctured vial

Colorado has administered more than five million doses of the vaccine ever since distribution efforts began. Around 2.4 million Coloradans are fully vaccinated while more than one hundred million people are fully vaccinated in the United States.

Providers are required to report the number of wasted doses that they’ve gone through to the state. According to the state’s count, they’ve reported 12,646 unused doses which is less than 0.3% of the 5,092,644 doses that have been administered.

The state has a webpage dedicated to helping people find an appointment if you still need one.

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