NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — There have been 6.27 million individual doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Indiana so far, but plenty more Hoosiers are still yet to be vaccinated.
With all the doses, it’s no surprise that some have been wasted, be that from expiration or damage to the vial itself.
Inside each vial are several individual doses. If not planned out perfectly, this can lead to wasted doses at vaccine clinics across the country.
The Indiana State Department of Health says since the start of 2021, more than 62,000 doses have been wasted. Experts say all things considered, that’s really not bad.
“Given that 3 million Hoosiers have been vaccinated, that’s somewhat, probably, I’d say a low number,” said Hamilton County Health Department Administrator Jason LeMaster. “No one wants to lose any because it’s precious. It’s a precious commodity, and we want it in arms more than we would want to lose it.”
The serum inside the vaccine saves lives. That’s why LeMaster says getting as much as they can out of each vial is crucial. But preserving each dose is easier said than done.
“Depending on the vaccine itself, whether it’s frozen, whether it’s refrigerated, how long it can remain at a refrigerated temperature varies. It can go from days, weeks, hours if the vaccine itself, the vial’s been taken out of refrigeration, opened, mixed, those kinds of things. So those factors all do play into it,” LeMaster said. “It’s a complex dance that we do to manage them.”
ISDH released this statement regarding wasted doses:
A dose of vaccine may go unused for a number of reasons, including a vial breaking or becoming outdated. Throughout the vaccine effort, we have encouraged providers to use short-dated vaccine first to minimize wastage. However, as demand for vaccine has waned, the number of unused doses has increased. Our most recent data shows that there have been just over 62,000 unused doses since Jan. 1, 2021.ISDH
LeMaster says their vaccine conservation effort comes down to strategic planning: ordering, appointments and administering.
“In our county, we take it very personal and make sure that we try not to waste any at all,” LeMaster said. “We don’t want to bring out multiple vials and have them out and have them ready and to go and not ever use them.”
Hamilton County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state at 75.2% among eligible individuals. The delta variant infects even the vaccinated though, which is why Hamilton County resident Zach Wampler got tested for the virus Thursday night.
“Just seems like something prudent to do. I mean, if you’ve been contacted through the trace and seemed like this was an easy set up,” Wampler said. “It was really disappointing. Trying to figure out how to juggle life and all of this. I hope, fingers crossed, nothing comes out of it.”
For all that is wasted statewide, Hamilton County hopes their contribution to the number of doses lost is low.
“We do report all those numbers up to the state and try to keep that to a minimum,” LeMaster said.
FOX59 asked LeMaster how many doses have been wasted at the county level, and he was unable to answer Thursday evening.