Baton Rouge, La. – Louisiana’s problem of wasted COVID-19 vaccine shots persists, with nearly 224,000 doses being dumped across the state because health providers can’t find enough residents willing to roll up their sleeves.
The number of trashed doses has nearly tripled since the end of July, even as Louisiana was battling the fourth, deadly surge of the coronavirus pandemic during that time, sparking increased interest in vaccines.
The latest data provided by the Louisiana Department of Health to The Associated Press showed that 223,918 doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been excluded.
This is relatively low compared to the 4.4 million vaccine doses administered across the state. But waste is not uncommon in mass vaccination efforts, with the United States throwing up doses as millions of people around the world still await the opportunity to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Health Department spokesman Kevin Litton said most of Louisiana’s wasted vaccine doses were because vials containing shots were opened, but hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other providers couldn’t find anyone to take the doses.
No more than 21,500 shots were used past their expiration dates.
About 50,000 doses of Moderna & Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are due to expire within the next month, but Litton said the state hopes to hand out those shots before that.
Louisiana has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that shows only five states have lower vaccination rates. According to the Department of Health, more than 2.1 million people in Louisiana — about 46% of the population — have been fully vaccinated.