How retail pharmacies plan to handle leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses

Retail pharmacies around the U.S. are taking different approaches to making sure extra COVID-19 vaccine doses don't go to waste, including using waiting lists or giving leftover shots to their employees and shoppers, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

About 6,500 pharmacies in all 50 states are set to receive a total of 1 million vaccine doses from the federal government starting Feb. 11. The pharmacies require eligible people to schedule appointments to get the vaccine, but doses can go unclaimed if people don't show up for appointments or if vials contain more doses than expected, according to the Journal

Each state has its own guidelines for vaccine eligibility, and in some places a provider can be penalized for giving a shot to someone who doesn't meet the eligibility requirements. The rules are generally less strict when it comes to making sure no vaccine doses go to waste, the Journal reported. 

Some retail pharmacies told the Journal they plan to give priority to employees when it comes to leftover vaccine doses. Others said they would try to find members of the public who fit their state's eligibility guidelines. Most said they would coordinate with their local health officials to make sure the doses go to the right people, the Journal reported. 

CVS and Walgreens told the Journal they've already started vaccinating their employees with leftover doses and plan to continue doing so. In some states, drugstore employees are considered healthcare or front-line workers, so they meet eligibility requirements. 

"Bottom line, we're not going to let a dose go to waste," a CVS spokesperson told the Journal.  

Walmart told the Journal it will offer leftover doses to shoppers or workers who are eligible under the state's guidelines. Some stores are keeping lists of eligible people to call if they have leftover doses. 

Other retail pharmacies told the Journal they would announce leftover doses to shoppers in their stores or keep waiting lists of customers. But waiting lists have caused problems in some places, as customers can put their names on more than one list or put their name on the list despite not meeting state guidelines, the Journal reported. 

Read the full article here

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