JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a hundred vaccines have been wasted in Duval County, according to the Florida Department of Health. The reported wasted doses amount to fewer than 1% of the vaccines distributed in Jacksonville so far.
But as cities plead for more supply, health officials say one dose thrown out is too many.
Over the weekend in Jacksonville, more than 4,000 more people were vaccinated for COVID-19. It pushed Duval County to more than 80,000 people who have received their first doses.
The Florida Department of Health in Duval County has reported at least 163 doses wasted or spoiled from Dec. 14 to Feb. 3. Collectively, Florida county health departments reported more than 3,344 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were thrown out or spoiled. The Florida Department of Health has not yet said which sites are reporting vaccines wasted.
On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that no doses have been wasted at city-run sites.
“The Department of Health is working hard to distribute the vaccine, but that’s not the city. That’s not us. I was unaware of that,” said Mayor Curry “From the city’s supply of vaccines that we have had come in, we use all of it. In fact, you have an estimate of what you might get but it depends on how much you draw. Our estimate for the last batch was 975. We ended up distributing over a thousand from that batch.”
John Ward is the emergency management director for Clay County. Ward and the local health department said Friday the county has reported no doses wasted so far.
“There is a column in there for, you know, any wasted doses, and we’ve directed our team there. There will never be a number that where we’ve wasted unless, unfortunately, we dropped a vial or something along those lines,” said Ward.
Ward says the county maintains a list of city employees that meet the governor’s order to only vaccinate people 65 and older or frontline health care workers. They are put on a list, and if at the end of the day there are remaining doses, the county reaches out and asks people to arrive within 15 minutes.
“Obviously with Pfizer, it becomes a little bit more challenging because that’s ultra-cold chain. So especially if you’re talking a Friday afternoon, and you’re not opening your vaccine clinic ‘til Monday, it won’t last through the weekend,” said Ward.
The Florida Department of health says it has instructed state sites specifically on how to handle this issue. If a vaccine dose is set to expire that day and has gone unused the state will immediately relocate it to a different site or state operation, including long-term care.