Officials OK offering vaccines to additional priority groups if doses risk spoiling

SOMERVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) - State leaders say it’s OK for sites to offer COVID-19 vaccines to those who don’t qualify if doses are in danger of going bad.

This comes after state officials announced that 1,096 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 176 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have gone to waste as of Friday.

Of the 960,100 doses shipped to date, officials say this represents a vaccine wastage percentage of 0.13.

“Any vaccine that gets lost is a missed opportunity,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “A tremendous loss.”

In Somerville, one doctor’s office has already begun taking action to save their shots from spoiling.

Dr. Deborah Bershel, who works at Davis Square Family Practice, said she had 100 doses to distribute one day but when her office started calling patients 75 and older, they were surprised by the response.

“About 50 percent of our 75 and older patients already had a vaccine and one said she got three offers for a vaccine,” Bershel said.

The problem is once the Moderna vials are opened, they must go into arms within six hours or else they get thrown out.

To make sure there are no leftovers at the Somerville practice, Bershel said her staff has begun offering vaccines to patients in Phase 2.

“Somebody who’s 64 years of age, who has diabetes, and heart disease not qualifying over someone whose 75 who’s is sheltering at home… that’s ludicrous,” she said.

The state says this course of action is OK. If the vaccine will expire, healthcare professionals are allowed to give the shot to a person in another priority group.

“This is like a war,” Bershel said. “We need to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

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