ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The search for a COVID-19 vaccine led Kim Czerniejewski on a pursuit for leftover doses that would otherwise go to waste because of the limited shelf life.
“I called a CVS that is near me and asked if they were doing that and they said they had a waiting list and that they would put me on the waiting list if they had any leftover [doses] at the end of the day,” Czerniejewski said
The Orange County woman said she was not on the eligible priority list under state guidelines, but the opportunity to avoid the frustrating process of scheduling limited appointments was worth the try.
“I had put my name [in] probably about 4 p.m. on Tuesday and by 6:30 they had called me and said we have extra, come on down,” Czerniejewski said.
A vaccine dose is leftover when someone scheduled to receive a shot doesn’t show up for their appointment or doesn’t cancel one.
To make sure doses don’t go to waste, retail pharmacies around the country have been taking varying approaches to make sure doses don’t go to waste, including the use of giving leftover shots to their associates or using waitlists.
That scenario is what led Czerniejewski to get a shot.
“I was kind of surprised that first of all I got called that quickly just within a couple of hours and then once I got there, they had a very streamline process for getting it,” Czerniejewski said.
To find out if leftover doses were in violation, News 6 reached out to multiple pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and each provided a statement.
Walgreens is committed to ensuring every dose of COVID-19 vaccine is used. At this time, demand for vaccines outweighs supply, so excess doses are rare. In the event that there are remaining doses at the end of the day that are due to expire, those doses may be used to vaccinate individuals eligible under state guidelines as well Walgreens team members who are eligible to receive vaccines as part of the phased plans outlined by the CDC and states. If there are excess doses beyond that, Walgreens communicates regularly with the state and local jurisdictions to determine next steps for reallocation.
Our goal is to administer 100% of the vaccines we receive and have a process in place to administer vaccines to our eligible associates whenever possible if there are additional doses remaining in a vial at the end of the night.
Our pharmacy teams are constantly evaluating how to most efficiently vaccinate eligible individuals with remaining doses. This includes outreaching to eligible patients in their communities, as our pharmacies maintain patient profiles with information that can help identify who is eligible to be vaccinated. If patients do not receive a call, we recommend that they continue to check cvs.com for available appointments in your area. In the rare instance of leftover doses where there aren’t available eligible candidates, our pharmacy teams use their best judgment about administering the vaccine to others. We work to avoid wasting any vaccine.
Czerniejewski said she is just relieved she was one of the lucky few.
“With the leftovers, it doesn’t matter, they did ask for my date of birth they did ask me if I would qualify in any way.”