BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama health leaders continue to see more supplies of COVID-19 vaccine being available than demand. The large supply is increasing concerns some doses may be wasted by patients not showing up for shots.
Doctors said this is a problem that’s being handled for the most part. Few doses have been wasted, but some experts believe the problem will increase as we see more supply of vaccine than folks actually getting shots in arms.
UAB has four sites for vaccine distribution and because of ample supply the hospital has changed from mandating appointments at some sites to being open for anyone who shows up.
“We are starting to see the demand at our sites really diminish if you will. We had a long line of people waiting for appointments and that line has dwindled now,” Dr. Sarah Nafziger, UAB VP of Clinical Services said.
UAB can now handle walk-ups. Dr. Nafziger said at this point they have not seen any vials wasted because of turnout. She said this is due to planning and technology which allows them to stay in touch with the various sites.
“We have been able to fine tune our processes as to vaccine supply to the sites by having runners who transport between our sites multiple times a day,” Nafziger said.
UAB can accommodate and be flexible based on the needs. IPads help them communicate also between the various sites. Alabama’s Department of Public Health estimates about 200 doses have been wasted. Nafzger fears this will be a growing problem in the future.
“A lot of what we have on hand right now is set to expire in July and some more of our supplies are set to expire in August. As we get into the situation as we have more vaccine available I think we will see situations where vaccines are wasted,” Nafziger said.
Those expirations are for supply of Pfzier vaccines. Nafziger and other doctors across Alabama are worried not enough people are taking advantage of the vaccinations now available to help end the pandemic.