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Nebraska COVID-19 vaccination doses expiring in a few weeks

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccination doses are set to expire at the end of this month.

In the early days, the idea was to manufacture as much vaccine as possible, but now that vaccinations have slowed, unused doses are piling up.

The state of Nebraska has administered 1.9 million COVID-19 vaccination doses so far. That amounts to 93% of its allocation, meaning there are 124,000 doses still waiting to be used — and the vaccine has a limited shelf life.

At the end of August, 45,000 of the state’s Pfizer doses will expire and will need to be disposed of like regular medical waste.

The deadline has vaccination teams doubling their efforts to reach the unvaccinated.

Medical experts had higher hopes that more Nebraskans would be vaccinated this far into the pandemic, but with just 50% of the state’s residents vaccinated, thousands of doses that were expected to be used are sitting in refrigerated storage.

CHI Health has 9,000 doses with the same deadline.

“We’re doing everything we can to get out those vaccines,” said Dr. Cary Ward with CHI Health. “It is such a shame to see vaccines go to waste, but the saddest part is when patients become hospitalized for a preventative illness and young people get sick because they didn’t get vaccinated.”

Because vaccines are so new, there isn’t data available suggesting an expired vaccine is dangerous. But because experts don’t know whether they could be less effective, they’re given an expiration date.

CHI Health officials are hoping to create a newfound buzz for getting vaccinated with a new telephone hotline where experts can asnwer vaccine questions and perhaps sift through any misinformation.

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