EDMONTON, AB – Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw issuing a joint statement on Tuesday (Jan. 5) stressing that COVID-19 vaccine waste is being limited, but it’s ultimately unavoidable.
The pair of provincial officials say there’s misinformation circulating online lately, particularly regarding the comments of an Edmonton-area doctor.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha posted on Twitter on Monday (Jan. 4) alleging that unused doses are being thrown away at the end of the day, and that Alberta Health Services (AHS) has directed staff to waste the vaccine instead of giving it to those who are not included in Phase 1 of the rollout.
Shandro and Hinshaw say doses are thawed and prepared based on pre-scheduled appointments. If there are no further appointments for the day, but thawed doses are still available, those administering the shot are allowed to vaccinate each other since the vaccine cannot be re-frozen or refrigerated.
Minimal amounts of vaccine will be lost, as well, when drawing doses or if a vial is dropped or spilled by accident. They say waste is “extremely limited thanks to the processes in place.”
The joint statement also stresses that this COVID-19 immunization program currently has just 0.3-percent wastage, which is much better than other typical immunization programs, like the seasonal flu shot, which have been reported to reach up to 6-percent wastage.
Shandro and Hinshaw say that AHS continues to explore even further ways to reduce vaccine waste.