LANSING, Mich. — At the beginning of the year demand for COVID-19 vaccines greatly outweighed available supply, now here in Michigan more than 260,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are set to expire in the next four weeks.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Pfizer vaccines will begin expiring in September and Moderna shots the following month.
“It’s sad, you know as a public health person we know that the vaccine saves lives and the fact that we have so much vaccine available but the rate at which people are getting newly vaccinated or completing their vaccine schedule is so slow is really disappointing,” said Debra Furr-Holden, associate dean for public health integration at Michigan State University.
Vaccines that expire at health local health departments are disposed of as they would be at any hospital or health center.
“There’s a process in place and we have real procedures in place for how you deal with medical and biohazard waste which is what vaccines are considered,” she said.
The Mid-Michigan District Health Department has 1,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which are set to expire in the next month.
"Right now the state has instructed us to keep all the expired COVID vaccines to the side, we label them do not use and we also keep them at the recommended temperature requirements for the specific vaccine,” said Elizabeth Braddock, environmental director at the Mid-Michigan District Health Department. “We are waiting for further guidance from our state's immunization team on how to deal with them when the time comes, when it's closer to the expiration date.”
In Ingham County, the health department has partnered with local clinics and medical providers to minimize waste.
"Lansing Urgent Care has been a really great partner in that regard and they can call in their patients or offer it to people who walk into the urgent care that has been significant in reducing the amount of waste we have,” said Nike Shoyinka, Ingham County Health Department’s medical director.
Livingston County’s health department says they are also working with local partners to “ensure minimal waste” by asking other departments if they are able to use the doses before they expire.
Furr-Holden says there aren’t any major local programs to relocate vaccines that are about to expire.
“The problem with getting vaccines distributed before they expire is it’s bigger than a local problem.The redistribution of vaccines has now become a global problem,” she said. “The World Health Organization is working on a kind of good stewardship program where some of the leading affluent countries are contributing vaccines to the global landscape to support countries that are under-resourced and also being hit hard by COVID.”
Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.
Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.