A “zero-waste” policy for COVID-19 vaccinations in D.C. helps assure that doses intended for people missing scheduled appointments will get used.
The vaccines now approved for use have short shelf lives once defrosted.
“Our communication to pharmacists has been consistent about zero waste of the vaccine regarding if doses will expire due to missed appointments and that they should administer the vaccine to anyone who wants to take it,” according to an email from D.C. Health.
Protocols for use recently resulted in a surprised, grateful law student getting vaccinated at a Giant. Giant is one of the pharmacies administering vaccines to Phase 1a health care workers, such as dentists and nurse practitioners.
“This first wave — they’ve shown up because they’re so excited about getting the vaccine,” said Samir Balile, manager of clinical programs for Giant Pharmacy.
But if doses are available because of no-shows, there’s a checklist for what happens next.
“Our protocol is to administer to our health care providers, which is our pharmacist and pharmacy teams first,” Balile said.
Vaccine at risk of expiring then is to be offered to grocery store employees, who are considered to be front-line workers, then elderly shoppers who may be in the store, then anyone else who might be around.
“The plan is for everybody to get vaccinated — we don’t want to waste a shot and potentially lose the opportunity of protecting another person,” Balile said. “There is no waiting list.”
WTOP’S Scott Gelman contributed to this report.
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