FORT MYERS, Fla. — As millions in Florida are waiting for their chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a new report from the Associated Press says 4,435 doses of the vaccine have gone to waste here in the state.
Phizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson are ramping up production to provide as many vaccines as possible but appointments and shots are still scarce.
Health Expert, Robert Hawkes from Florida Gulf Coast University, says mismanaging strict packaging rules for doses, like needing to be kept in below-freezing temperatures, has led to waste across the state.
"When those vials are taken out as they are going to be administered to people coming in for their vaccine, there is only a certain period of time that they can be out of the freezer before the vaccine starts to lose its effectiveness and can no longer be used," says Hawkes.
While this global pandemic is like nothing we’ve seen before in our lifetime, vaccine waste is a normal part of any disease with thousands of flu shots going to waste every year as well.
Hawkes says to minimize waste, if you are able to get an appointment, you need to show up.
"People have scheduled an appointment it's very important to keep that appointment. If you can’t then you need to contact the distribution site so they can take you off and go to the next person on the list," says Hawkes.