‘Vaccine hunters’ try to get leftover doses of coronavirus shots

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) — In high demand and with short supply, vaccination sites are taking steps to ensure all coronavirus vaccine doses are used. And, vaccine hunters are trying to take advantage.

Several local vaccination clinics report people have asked for end-of-day leftover doses, hoping to score a thawed dose so it doesn’t go to waste, even if they’re not eligible.

The State of Ohio has encouraged vaccination sites to not waste doses, but the decision on what to do with leftover doses is up to individual vaccine providers.

“We’ve had some folks show up at the end of the clinic and ask if we’ve had any waste, but that’s not typically how we handle it,” Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said.

Skoda said Summit County Public Health’s clinic first used the few remaining doses from open vials for vaccinators. Now, the agency calls others in an eligible age group who live nearby.

“We’re sticking with the age requirement,” she said.

Lorain County Public Health said it is using a similar system.

“Everyone on our waste list is already in that 65 and over group, so they’re in 1b,” Commissioner Dave Covell said. “We make sure they’re in 1b, so we’ll go off that list.”

Courtesy: Ohio Dept. of Health

University Hospitals has also had vaccine hunters show up at its vaccination clinic but said they haven’t received doses.

“We have given extra doses from our patient vaccine clinic to 1b patients, caregivers of 1b patients and police officers,” UH Cleveland Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Dr. Robyn Strosaker said.

She said the hospital will not waste a dose.

“We try to predict leftover doses throughout the day and proactively invite Phase 1b patients who would be next in the queue to schedule to come at the end of the clinic.  If these patients are not available, we reach out to other 1b patients,” Strosaker said.

A spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic said vaccine hunters have not been an issue for the health system.

“Because vaccinations are by appointment-only, we have been able to plan and efficiently use our vaccine doses. However, we are committed to using every dose. We have developed a process to ensure unused doses at the end of day can be administered to vaccinators, patient companions or COVID-facing caregivers,” spokesperson Andrea Pacetti said.

Local pharmacies that FOX 8 News called said they’re also not giving the vaccine to people who aren’t yet eligible.

A spokesperson for Walgreens said vaccinations are being administered at select stores in accordance with state eligibility requirements. He said the only way to receive a vaccine fro Walgreens is for eligible individuals to schedule an appointment.

“In states or jurisdictions where the number of vaccines needed for the Long-Term Care Program is trending lower than what facilities initially requested, we are working with states and jurisdictions to determine how they would like to re-allocate those vaccines, which may include expanding vaccinations to additional prioritized individuals in our stores or returning the vaccine to the state to administer according to their needs.”

— Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman

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