Some vaccinations in Alabama facing expiration dates

Published: May. 26, 2021 at 5:04 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama is continuing to get weekly supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines - about 120-130,000 doses a week. But the problem is the demand for those shots has dropped dramatically over the last two months.

We have been told Alabama is doing a good job, thanks to notification procedures to ensure no vials or doses are wasted. But the state health department is keeping a close eye on those leftovers expiration dates, which are coming up.

Alabama started rolling out vaccinations mostly to healthcare workers late last year. The supply was low then and the demand was high. Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says the demand for the shot has decreased. “We got about 1.6 million people with at least one shot. We are not giving those shots as fast as we were two months ago. We certainly wish we were giving them faster,” Harris said.

Alabama ranks near the bottom of all states providing vaccinations. Alabama has received about 4.2 million doses and administered about 2.8 million. Harris said they are watching the expiration dates closely.

“We do have some vaccine that will start expiring sometime in June. Right now the advice we have been given is to keep that vaccine frozen and keep it stored properly. It’s possible the shelf life could be extended on it,” Harris said.

Both vaccines can be stored frozen up to six months. So far the state of Alabama has not requested the federal government to reduce its supply of vaccines due to a drop in demand. “Depending on what the science shows, maybe it can be used after the expiration date it has right now, but we don’t know yet,” Harris said.

The big drive-through vaccination sites will continue to shut down over the coming weeks. Harris said more people can get vaccines at their healthcare provider. If the CDC offers new guidance on vaccine expiration dates, Alabama will follow it.

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