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Wasted Doses

Two pharmacy chains tasked with inoculating Americans with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines account for most of the vaccine doses that have gone to waste, according to Kaiser Health News.

It adds that as of late March, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a count of 182,874 wasted SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses and that about half of these were from CVS and 21 percent from Walgreens. This, it says, suggests that the chains together wasted more vaccine doses than US states, territories, and federal agencies combined.

The vaccines themselves are finicky and have to be stored at cold temperatures and, once a vial is opened, used within a few hours, KHN notes, adding that the excess waste could be due to the high number of doses the chains were giving out early in the vaccination effort as well as their focus on inoculating individuals at long-term care facilities, an effort that garnered criticism for being slow and ineffective.

A CVS spokesperson attributes the wasted doses to to transportation issues and limits on redirecting unused doses, and tells KHN that its "teams were able to limit waste to approximately one dose per onsite vaccination clinic."

"Our goal has always been ensuring every dose of vaccine is used," a Walgreens spokesperson adds at KHN.

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