Wisconsin vaccine spoilage below federal standard, declining shots pose challenge to use every dose

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 19:41:00-04

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — The number of daily vaccinations in Milwaukee County has declined as the local health officials note a transition in the rollout can make it challenging to use every single dose.

On Thursday, county officials reported local vaccinations went from 8,600 daily shots last week to 7,200 shots per day this week.

It was not too long ago when people seemed eager to nab one of the limited COVID-19 vaccines with many trying to catch leftover doses from vaccinators trying to avoid wasting them. Those lines are dwindling.

"It's getting more challenging now. We're seeing more barriers to people traveling to get the vaccine. We've starting to get to people who are hesitant to get the vaccine. So it’s harder, it’s becoming more challenging for sites to make sure you use every single dose," said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services at the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported since December 4,500 doses have been wasted or spoiled. That is out of more than 4 million doses that were allocated and administered or 0.1 percent. The federal government's standard is 2 percent.

DHS also noted a large portion of the wasted vaccines came from a former Grafton pharmacist who deliberately spoiled doses.

Hayat Pharmacy helped host a pop-up vaccine clinic at Nomad World Pub on Brady Street where people could show up for a different kind of shot. It was part of an effort to meet people where they are.

"I was just running some errands and one of the workers flagged me down and asked. It's good timing for me," said Greg Madasdy.

"I've lived here since 1955 so right in this area so this is very handy," said Robert Lehner, who lives nearby. Lehner struggled to get vaccinated previously when other pharmacies directed him to set up an appointment on a computer.

Hayat's pharmacist said predicting how many people will actually show up is tough which is why they wait to open vials of vaccine.

"We wait until they come and we do it. Also, reaching out to different organizations or different employers to see if they want to get vaccinated because we do know that we have a supply that needs to be used," said pharmacist Lauren Splawn.

Splawn was happy with the state's role in managing communications between vaccinators to ensure any extra doses could be used before expiring.

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