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2,349 doses of COVID-19 vaccine go to waste in Wisconsin – FOX 6 Milwaukee

Wisconsin wasted roughly 2,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. That is from the time vaccinations started in December through February. 

Wanting a shot at the shot, Milwaukee resident Betty Thomas has a disability and is still waiting. 

“Why are they throwing them away when you’ve got people out here that want them and they can’t even get it?” Thomas asked. 

Vaccine

FOX6 News asked, and Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center sent this statement:

“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of this pandemic and are focused on using 100 percent of our available supplies every week. Since the isolated incident at Grafton in December and like many other providers who experienced early challenges extracting a sixth dose from Pfizer vials, we’ve significantly improved our efficiency. We’ve also implemented a program to review unused doses daily and ensure safeguards to minimize waste.”

The largest statewide waste was a December sabotage at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. A former pharmacist, Steven Brandenburg, pleaded guilty to spoiling 518 doses.

Vaccine

Sheboygan police tell FOX6 News they did not investigate the 145 wasted doses at St. Nicholas Hospital. The hospital blames human error.

“HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital learned that 28 vials of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine were unintentionally left out unrefrigerated on the night of Feb. 8, 2021. Upon immediate review of the situation, the hospital concluded that these vials were set aside while sorting vaccine; and as a result of human error, the 28 vials were inadvertently left out rather than placed back in the refrigerator as is standard protocol. HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital firmly believes this situation was a result of human error and not intentional. The hospital has taken this incident very seriously and used it to improve processes and put additional measures in place to ensure it will not happen again.”

UW Health wasted 98 doses. A statement reads as follows: 

“UW Health is focused on getting people the vaccine quickly, equitably and effectively. Out of 58,000 doses received, we have already administered over 90 percent of them with DHS data through February showing only 98 doses not making it into patient arms due largely to issues with vials or syringes.”

Nearly 2,300 vaccine doses spoiled or were wasted from December through February. When 1.4 million doses were administered, that represents 0.16% waste.

“We don’t want to have any vaccine wasted. The goal for such a valuable commodity is zero. That’s the ultimate goal,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, American Public Health Association executive director.

The American Public Health Association tells FOX6 News a vaccination program averages about 2.6% waste — that includes things like a passed expiration date, a vial breaking, or a syringe dropping. 

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“But in this case, we also have a vaccine that requires some special storage conditions,” said Benjamin. “So the biggest one, of course, is the fact that it requires ultra-cold storage.”

87 vaccinators reported losing less than five doses. All places that receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine have to sign and agree to various federal requirements — including to report vaccine doses spoiled, expired, or wasted. The numbers the state has shared are just entities getting vaccine through the state.

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