HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A daily push not seen from the outside is the effort hospitals and other medical facilities put forth to make sure the COVID vaccine doesn’t go to waste.
The issue came to light last month when an area doctor was accused of stealing a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine to administer to family and associates. The charges were dropped but the question remains: how should doctors respond when no one is available to receive the vaccine?
“Given the preciousness of this vaccine, the answer is you find somebody hopefully that fits into 1A or 1B categories,” said Joe Freudenberger, the CEO of Oakbend Medical Center. “But if not, I still think it is the best idea to use that vaccine rather than waste it.”
Freudenberger said most facilities schedule patients to match the number of vials they plan to use on a particular day. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines only survive about six hours after being opened. If you have patients no-show in the middle of the day -- no problem -- just move to the next patient. No-shows at the end of the day -- according to Dr. Gary Sheppard who is the president of the Harris County Medical Society -- produce a scramble because the clock is ticking on the vaccine.
“We have to have a plan on what we can do to make sure at the end of the day that we use all the vaccines and all the doses,” said Sheppard.
Texas Children’s Hospital told KPRC2 that of the 26,000 doses they’ve given so far only two have gone unused. The medical community says wasted vials are rare -- and they plan to keep it that way.
“We know unfortunately that it can happen,” said Sheppard. But people are trying their best not to let that happen because we know how precious each vaccine is.”
The medical professionals we spoke to said that it comes down to proper planning and patients showing up when scheduled.