Health Care

With demand for vaccines stagnant, could doses go to waste in Vermont?

Two vials on table; one is labeled "Moderna Covid-19 vaccine"
Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for injection at a clinic in Beecher Falls on March 29, 2021. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Across the country, millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses are set to expire and go to waste as demand for the shots continues to dwindle. 

In Vermont, more than 77,000 shots are still waiting to be used — 8,000 of which expire in about a month. But despite the slowing pace of vaccinations, the Department of Health said Thursday that officials believe no portion of the state’s vaccine allocation would go to waste.

“We know what the expiration dates are and have been successful at reallocating vaccine around the state to ensure doses are used before they expire,” Ben Truman, a spokesperson for the health department, wrote in an email.

Nationally, states have administered 86% of all vaccine doses delivered to them by the federal government, according to the most recent CDC data. In the aggregate, states have yet to administer 53.4 million doses that have been delivered to them. Some are second shots that will eventually find themselves into arms, but about half will likely go unused before they expire, one expert told STAT News.

In Vermont — the most vaccinated state in America — just shy of 92% of all doses received have been administered, according to the federal data.

With demand lagging in some parts of the country and still strong in others, the federal government in May changed the way that vaccines were allocated. States with waning interest could turn down doses, which were routed into a federal pool. That allowed states with high demand — including Vermont — to draw down more than the proportional share initially set aside for them. 

But thousands of doses in the Green Mountain State are nevertheless set to expire soon. There are 8,000 doses of Pfizer expiring at the end of August, according to the health department. And at the end of September, 5,000 doses of Pfizer and 6,000 doses of Moderna will go bad. An additional 11,000 doses expire in October and November.
The pace of vaccination, meanwhile, has significantly and steadily slowed, although the state still administered over 2,000 doses each week in the last month, according to the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

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Lola Duffort

About Lola

Lola Duffort is VTDigger's education reporter. Prior to Digger, Lola covered schools for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and the Rutland Herald. She has also freelanced for the Miami Herald in Florida, where she grew up. She is a graduate of McGill University in Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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