10 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted or expired: Alberta Health

EDMONTON –

Ten per cent of Alberta’s total vaccine supply to date has been wasted or expired, the Health Ministry told CTV News.

Alberta has received more than 7.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A survey by The Canadian Press suggests that of the 67 million doses jurisdictions in Canada have received approximately 1,016,669 doses — around 2.6 per cent — have not made it into anyone’s arms.

According to that survey, Alberta’s vaccine wastage is the highest in the country.

The number of unused doses varies across Canada, with Nova Scotia reporting the lowest rate of 0.3 per cent. Ontario did not provide any information about wasted and expired doses within the survey.

“As vaccine coverage reaches new highs in Alberta, the number of Albertans getting immunized each day has decreased, and more remaining doses in a vial will be wasted,” said Lisa Glover, Alberta Health spokesperson.

Glover pointed to the influenza vaccine campaign in 2019-20 having a wastage rate of approximately eight per cent.

“This is not a unique challenge to Alberta,” Glover added. “Other jurisdictions are also facing slowing vaccine rates as the vast majority of their populations become vaccinated.”

To vaccinate as many people as possible, Glover added that vaccine doses are available on a walk-in basis, which may increase waste.

Each vial of vaccine contains multiple doses, meaning if not enough people come to a walk-in clinic or appointments are missed, remaining doses within that vial may have to be wasted, Glover explained.

After puncturing a vial of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, it can be stored for up to six hours when at the right temperature. Moderna shots can last 24 hours if stored in the right conditions after being punctured.

As of Thursday, more than 6.77 million vaccine doses have been administered in Alberta.

Seventy-five per cent of the total population have at least one dose, and 70.5 per cent of Albertans are fully vaccinated — or 82.8 per cent of the population aged 12 or older.

To date, Alberta has received more than 5.5 million Pfizer/BioNTech, 1.9 million Moderna, 316,300 AstraZeneca, and 5,000 Janssen doses.

Alberta expects to begin vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 late next week. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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