Iowain USAhas discarded tens of thousands of expired doses of the vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19 and could rule out hundreds of thousands more if demand for the vaccine continues to lag in the state, health officials said.
Iowa Department of Public Health spokeswoman Sarah Ekstrand said Monday that the state has released more than 81,000 doses of the vaccine, reported el Des Moines Register.
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“It is very sad that we are throwing away so many doses when we know that the vaccine works”said Rachel Reimer, chair of the Department of Public Health at Des Moines University, adding that millions of people in other countries are desperate for the vaccine. “And we literally can’t give it away.”
Federal officials have said that states cannot return unused vaccines to manufacturers or donate them to other states or countries, Ekstrand said.
“We have exhausted all options before the vaccine expires”he told the Register in an email.
The department warned last month that the state may have to discard about 217,000 doses by the end of August unless demand picks up.
Health officials said they have seen an increase in demand for the vaccine recently, as cases have increased over the summer. But demand is still well below what it was in Aprilwhen vaccines first became available.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that 59% of eligible Iowans had been fully vaccinated. In some counties, less than 40% of residents have been vaccinated.