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COVID-19 vaccines face being discarded in Alabama

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the clock is ticking on COVID vaccine doses in Alabama and the country.

Expiration dates are coming up for some of the vaccines this month.

Dr. Scott Harris said he hoped those COVID vaccines could be used beyond the expiration dates, but now it appears those vaccines may have to be discarded.

Alabama has received more than four million doses of vaccine and the state has used just three million. Dr. Harris said he expects to see the expired vaccines discarded as they hit expiration dates.

“I think that is unfortunate given the shortage of vaccines in the world. There is right now no mechanism to return vaccine that is short dated,” Harris said.

In the country, millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines are set to expire later this month. Pfizer and Moderna have a six month expiration date. The Alabama Department of Health believed the FDA would extend the shelf life, but that hasn’t happened.

“We have asked individual providers to make those decisions and use their inventory as best they can. We all understand there is going to be vaccines that expire,” Harris said.

Some states wanted to move excess vaccines to areas or countries where they could be used, but time is running out.

“Right now, the guidance we have from the feds is that we treat it like any expired medication or vaccine and dispose of it accordingly,” Harris said.

We asked just how many vaccines were potentially going to be discarded. Dr. Harris did not have a number.

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