New York , New data obtained exclusively by Granthshala 5 News shows that 167,359 COVID vaccine doses had to be thrown away last year.
New York Assemblyman John McDonald, who is also a pharmacist, pointed out that the strategy in those early days of vaccine distribution was short lived.
“We were all under pressure to take our first two doses and it was a race,” McDonald said. “We are more strategic now.”
At the start of the year, there was a crush of New Yorkers desperate to get the vaccine. Since then, about 30 million doses have been administered but the effort has not been without some waste.
Data released by the state health department as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) request shows that while there were days when very few vaccine doses were skipped, there were also days when they were given to thousands of people. was thrown by For example, on April 12, FEMA was forced to throw more than 3,500 vaccine doses at Medgar Evers College because one of their storage refrigerators broke.
A FEMA spokesperson said, “Ensuring the safe distribution of vaccines is our top priority. Unfortunately in two locations (Brooklyn and Yonkers) a batch of vaccinations went bad due to refrigeration problems and we have to worry about safety and effectiveness. Had to settle them.” wrote in a statement. “Steps were taken to ensure that the issue was addressed and did not reoccur, and that operations at these sites were not directly affected. In total, more than 288,000 doses were administered at both sites ”
This kind of waste is bound to happen, said Empire Center health policy expert Bill Hammond.
“I think some level of wastage was inevitable, because of the complexity of the job, the number of different players involved, the fact that the dose runs out,” Hammond said.
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On June 5, the highest dose ever had to be thrown out by the Oneida County Health Department. According to Oneida County’s health director, about 11,000 doses were wasted due to lack of demand. While no one in this area was denied the shot, the dose elapsed before it was administered.
Oneida County Health Director Dr. Daniel W. Gilmore said in a statement, “New York State’s vaccine rollout was flawed from the start, failing to capitalize on high initial public demand, which could have resulted in many more people being vaccinated. ” “Initially established eligibility restrictions constrained supplies, created confusion and fueled reluctance to vaccinate. Unfortunately a situation arose in Oneida County where we were forced to dispose of thousands of doses of expired vaccines While not a single county resident who wanted a shot was denied vaccination, the supply exceeded the demand at the time.”
When the COVID vaccines were first introduced, then-Govt. Andrew Cuomo created strict eligibility requirements, which limited what older adults and people with underlying health conditions could get a jab at.
“If you remember, there were some scams where people who weren’t technically qualified, but people working in the healthcare system, like CEOs and lawyers, were getting the shot,” Hammond said. “And it went public. The governor got angry about it and scolded people. He then threatened hospitals and other providers if they dosed people who were ineligible.”
The state health department said such a large quantity of vaccines at the Oneida County Health Department had been stored in refrigerators instead of freezers and that the vaccine had passed its “acceptable limit.” Moderna Vaccine can only be stored at refrigerator temperature for 30 days.
“The county was educated by NYSDOH regional office staff on inventory management and proper storage and handling procedures to prevent this from happening again,” a Health Department spokesman said.
There were typical days, however, where large quantities of vaccine doses were dumped at facilities across the state.
- June 7: Orange County Health Department wastes 2,515 doses
- June 15: Northwell North Shore dispenses 1,254 doses of vaccine
- June 18: Duchess County Health Department wasted 810 doses
- July 6: Ulster County Health Department has to dump 1,014 doses
- July 21: NuHealth Nassau University Med Center throws away 1,000 doses
- August 5: David Axelrod Institute in Albany, 1,170 doses wereted
- August 10: Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, 1,128 doses trashed
In total, 15,001 Johnson & Johnson shots, 89,732 Modern shots and 62,626 Pfizer shots were thrown.
Yet McDonald’s agreed that demand drops quickly in the late spring and summer months, especially for upstate areas, forcing many people to dump their excess product when it runs out. Huh.
“It wasn’t done out of ignorance or incompetence, it was a matter of trying to meet a demand that just hasn’t been met,” McDonald said. “And by the way, the vaccine expiration period was very short at that time.”
The state health department said that going forward, it has systems in place to reduce as much waste as possible.
“New York State continues to make every effort to vaccinate New Yorkers, with more than 90% of adults receiving at least one vaccine dose,” a Department of Health spokesperson said. “Since May 2021, we have allowed responsible wastage and continue to urge administrators not to miss any opportunity to vaccinate individuals. Additionally, before approving orders, the Department has approved provider administration and Assembled a dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine Order Team to review the list. This prevents providers from over-ordering vaccines, and further reduces wastage due to vaccine expiration.”