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OHA looks to distribute surplus COVID vax doses before it's too late

lines of doses.jpg
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Oregon Health Authority says it currently has over 700,000 viable doses which they hope to get to vaccine providers around the state.

The Oregon Health Authority said the state currently has over 700,000 viable doses which they hope to get to vaccine providers around the state and into people's arms.

With demand for COVID-19 vaccine beginning to wane across the state, the Oregon Health Authority is working to distribute the significant amount of vaccine still on hand—before it goes to waste.

Remember when people were cutting in line desperate to get vaccinated? Now, a drop in demand for the shot has led to a surplus in inventory. OHA’s Johnathan Modie said they currently have just over 700,000 viable doses which they hope to get to vaccine providers around the state.

But he said, “We anticipate Oregon will be left with excess inventory- but we believe we have done everything we can to minimize waste.”

Modie said the total number of doses wasted, spoiled or expired since vaccine roll out began is under 700,000. He insists demand for vaccine is not over. With the lifting of masking requirements on March 14, there are many who will be interested in the protection against serious illness that the vaccination affords.

At this point in the pandemic, 68% of Oregonians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s slightly higher than the national average.

Modie said there are many explanations for vaccine “wastage” including shipping mishaps, refrigeration fluctuations, breakage along with expiration. And, he added Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines have had their expiration dates extended which cuts down on waste.

The percentage of wasted doses in neighboring California is only about 1.8%, but in a state that has received 84 million doses and administered more than 71 million of them, that equates to roughly 1.4 million doses. Providers there are asked to keep doses until they expire, then properly dispose of them, the California Department of Public Health said.

The problem is not unique to the U.S. More than a million doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine expired this week in Guatemala, because nobody wanted to take the shot.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.