Expiring vaccine doses going to those outside of high-priority groups

Leanne Suter Image
Monday, January 4, 2021
Expiring vaccine doses going to those outside of high-priority groups
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Some hospitals acknowledge offering the COVID-19 vaccine to those outside the highest-priority groups - but say it was only done when thawed doses went unused and were about to expire.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While COVID-19 vaccine distribution across the nation has been slower than expected, there are reports of some individuals getting vaccinated when they were not in the top-priority groups.

Some hospitals in Southern California acknowledge giving vaccine doses to family members of staff and physicians.

But they say that was because they were left with doses that had been removed from refrigeration or freezing and were about to expire but were not used because of some health-care workers declining their own shots.

They say the vaccine doses would've gone to waste if they hadn't quickly offered it to others.

Even with some health-care workers declining the vaccine, the doses remain in high demand throughout the nation.

"This is like liquid gold right now," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County's public health director. "At times they've vaccinated a group of health-care workers at the hospital that weren't in what we call tier 1."

Frustrations are growing over a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout.

The CDC reports just 4 million doses have been administered in the United States - far short of the government's goal to reach 20 million people before the new year.

"It is a setback and it is disappointing," said infectious-diseases expert Jessica Malaty Rivera. "I really think states were left to fend for themselves."

But there is some new hope for increasing the supply of the Moderna vaccine - potentially doubling it overnight by cutting the dose size of both shots in half.

Some doctors suggest that the smaller dose can trigger the same immune response in most people ages 18-55. The FDA is meeting this week to consider that possibility.