How many COVID-19 vaccine doses have gone to waste in the US? 3 notes

The U.S. discarded 82.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from December 2020 through mid-May, according to CDC data shared with NBC News

That makes up just over 11 percent of doses the federal government has distributed. 

Three notes: 

1. The amount of waste aligns with estimates for large vaccination campaigns from the World Health Organization. Public health experts still say the amount of waste is concerning given that less than half of Americans have received a booster and there is inadequate vaccine access to initial doses in poor countries. 

2. CVS discarded nearly 11.8 million doses, about 13 percent of the 89.9 million it received. Walmart tossed 10 million doses, or about 22.6 percent of the nearly 44.6 million it received. Health Mart, DaVita, Rite Aid, Publix and Costco wasted fewer overall doses. Still, they each discarded more than a quarter of the doses they received. 

3. Pharmacies and state health officials have pointed to multidose vials — in which all doses must be used within hours of the vial being opened — as a large waste contributor. Declining demand and large minimum orders are other key factors leading to waste. 

"We often have to open a multidose vial at the end of the day for a single walk-in," CVS said in a statement, according to NBC. "Those vials have a very limited shelf life, which unfortunately means unused vaccine will be disposed of. The same challenge is faced by others administering vaccinations." 


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