How To Know About Extra Vaccines

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One thing that doctors and pharmacists administering the vaccine to end the Coronavirus-pandemic definitely never want to do is waste even a single vial of vaccine. So if you are on a list to be vaccinated, it is worth knowing that sometimes these providers do end up with more vaccine than they need at the end of the day, and there are systems in place to use them before they expire.

“In a rare circumstance, should there be any extra doses, our pharmacies across the state – including in Washtenaw County – call patients and our associates that fit within the approved eligibility phase, to offer the vaccine,” Kroger associate communication and engagement manager Lauren Montalbano said in an emailed statement.

Whether or not you can take advantage of this situation depends on your eligibility of course. Starting on April 5, vaccinations will start being available to anyone aged 16 and older, who haven’t been previously eligible. This will of course, be dependent on how much vaccine is available at any given moment, according to the state.

There have been about 146 million vaccines administered in the United States so far, according to the Covid Data Tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And there are a lot of options in Washtenaw County – from the two major centers being run by the Washtenaw County Health Department in Chelsea and Ypsilanti, to the U of M’s center at the Big House, to local pharmacies, to mobile units that the WCHD sends to high risk populations, to administer vaccinations by the hundreds.

Local cities, like Saline, are trying to get new vaccination centers set up within their city limits, to increase the capacity of vaccinations. The WCHD is trying to spread vaccination centers around so eventually you’ll be within a 20 minute drive of any vaccination location, no matter where you live in Washtenaw County.

The problem arises when people, desperate to get vaccinated somewhere, sign up for multiple programs. If you get vaccinated at the WCHD’s vaccination site at Eastern Michigan University, for example, and you’re on the schedule for other vaccination sites that you then don’t need to show up for, then that creates a hole in the schedule where someone else could have been vaccinated. That has created a noticeable amount of holes in time, and it can sometime mean that they have more time and temperature sensitive vaccines then they need.

Rather than just throwing them away, pharmacies like Rite Aid will take a look at customers with accounts and cross-check their medical history.

“We have data on our customers, showing if they meet eligibility criteria,” Rite Aid spokesperson Christopher Savarese said.

If they qualify for vaccinations, and Rite Aid has reason to believe that you have not yet been vaccinated, they will attempt to contact you and encourage you to come and get vaccinated. This does not happen every day to be clear, and not every Rite Aid location administers vaccinations. But if a location that does has more vaccines than arms by 4 p.m., they will make the effort to try and use up the vaccines they have before they expire.

Walgreens also does this at its vaccination locations, which is operational in 47 states, but not Michigan.

Image Credit: Washtenaw County Health Department

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