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Fact vs Fiction

We’ve noticed some comments on social media claiming that doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being ‘chucked away’ every day and wasted.

Just to be very clear, this is NOT the case.

Vaccines are delivered to the PEH Pharmacy before they are distributed to either the Community Vaccination Centre (CVC) or to our Primary Care colleagues who are delivering the vaccine programme.

Both the Pfizer BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccine are provided in vials that contain multiple doses (5 per vial for Pfizer BioNTech and either 10 or 8 doses per vial AstraZeneca). These are then made up to individual doses at the start of each and every vaccine clinic.

The PEH Pharmacy staff remove the vaccine from their fridge/freezer units in line with the number of appointments scheduled each day. These are then delivered to the CVC or Primary Care clinics.  The vaccines can be stored in a fridge once they have been removed from the PEH Pharmacy – generally the vials have to be used within 5 days of removal from the Pharmacy.

Prior to the vaccination clinic a waiting list is compiled with the names of individuals who can attend for vaccination, based on the anticipated additional doses that we are able to get from each vial of vaccine. These are individuals in priority groups. A further standby list of names is also compiled to ensure that any further additional doses can be used.

On occasion, as vaccination clinics are drawing to a close, it becomes clear that the planned doses of vaccine are not going to be used – usually due to people being unable to attend their scheduled appointment due to ill health or other reasons. In these cases, if the vials of vaccine haven’t been opened, they will be stored in the fridge for use the following day. If they have been opened, or are nearing the limit of time they can be stored in a fridge, then the team will call health and care staff, or other prioritised groups, to receive the vaccine that day rather than waste any doses.

The UK provides the vaccine to the Bailiwick with an assumed 20% wastage – this takes into account human error making up the doses etc. To date, the percentage wastage experienced in the Bailiwick is 0.05%.

So you can see, we treat the vaccine as a precious commodity and ensure that every drop possible is used. 

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