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“There’s no reason to waste doses,” top health expert on vaccine distribution strategies

There are two schools of thought among healthcare experts about distributing the COVID-19 vaccines.

First, all vaccines should be distributed as soon as possible after a shipment is received to ensure none goes to waste, and second, hold back half of a shipment to ensure second doses are available when needed.

North Dakota’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne says which strategy is best depends.

The Pfizer vaccine in particular has to be kept in ultra-cold storage, and if that’s not possible, it has a shelf-life. He says if it’s not possible to keep a shipment good long enough to await the second dose, give it out.

Here’s his recommendation: “Give the first dose, assume there will be supply-chain for the second dose, but if you’re getting tight, then as you’re getting closer to the time you have to give the second dose, then you cut down on first doses. So that way, you don’t waste the one dose that you’ve given and you don’t jeopardize things.”

He added, “So I think you have to…and I think they’re doing this, you have to evaluate it sort of day-by-day, week-by-week so that you don’t overcommit yourself but yet you don’t let any doses go to waste.”

A spokesperson for the state Department of Health estimates of the 35,250 vaccines delivered, two have gone unused and none have expired.

She added, “We’ve educated providers and local public health units that if they have extra doses at the end of an event they should provide the extra to individuals within the next priority group.” 

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