Some COVID-19 vaccines going to unscheduled patients to avoid waste

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 23:15:07-05

MILWAUKEE — While most people in Wisconsin wait for their chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine, some people could be getting a dose because health workers don't want it to go to waste.

During a media briefing Thursday, Greenfield Health Department Director Darren Rausch said when a COVID-19 vaccine vial is opened, health workers have six hours to administer the 10 doses inside.

"Right now behind me I can hear staff rapidly scrambling to find a couple more individuals to give that vaccine to," Rausch said.

Sometimes, he said, it's a matter of who is available to receive a dose at that time.

"I can tell you rather that than waste doses in vials, we will from time to time grab health department employees or grab employees from city hall to use the last two or three doses," Rausch said.

Dr. Ben Weston said he believes this situation happens at vaccination sites across the country.

"If you have an extra dose at the end of the day, you absolutely do not throw that dose away," Weston said. "You find somebody to get that dose in and do your best to make sure that it's somebody within the state-approved guidelines."

Wisconsin's current vaccination phase includes frontline health care personnel, residents in skilled nursing or long-term care facilities, police and fire personnel, correctional staff and people age 65 and older.

State data shows more than 432,000 vaccinations have been administered in Wisconsin as of Thursday.

"From talking to our health systems who are literally vaccinating tens of thousands of people, I think their focus is first and foremost on those who the state has outlined," Weston said.

TMJ4 News reached out to several area health systems, who each sent responses stressing they are following state and CDC vaccination guidance.

A spokesperson from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin wrote it recently opened vaccinations to all health care employees.

Advocate Aurora Health said it has since opened vaccine appointments to all of its team members. A statement reads in part, "As we expect a continued increase in our staffing needs, vaccinating more of our team will allow us to redeploy individuals as needed to support expanded vaccine clinics for patients in line with our Safe Care Promise."

A statement from Ascension Wisconsin reads in part, "Ascension Wisconsin has administered 31,000 vaccinations, including first and second doses, to Phase 1a and Phase 1b individuals. Ascension Wisconsin has associates who both work from home and also enter healthcare settings in their role and have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. These individuals are healthcare personnel eligible for vaccination in accordance with CDC and DHS guidance.”

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