(WXYZ) — Since the first vials of the COVID-19 vaccine rolled off the production line, health officials have been cautious to make sure every single dose was used. Now that demand has slowed, that job becomes more difficult.
So far in Michigan 193,291 COVID vaccine doses have been wasted, and 156,238 of those were wasted since May 25. Some were wasted due to dropped or broken vials, but the vast majority were opened and not used.
Beaumont says they rarely have wasted doses due to not using them.
"We really haven’t, we are pretty careful with our dose management at the clinics to try and use as many doses as we can," said Heidi Pillen, Senior Director of Pharmacy Services at Beaumont Health. "We do have an occasional dose here and there that goes unused.”
Since May 25, the percentage of wasted doses has increased nearly 5 fold, from .34% before May 25 to now roughly 1.6%. In late July, the state warned of more than 300,000 doses set to expire this month. With demand nowhere near its peak, Michigan was looking for other states who might want them.
“It's been down for sure compared to where we were when we started," Pillen said. "But the past couple weeks we’ve actually seen an uptick.”
Pillen is optimistic that increase is the beginning of a rebound. She says Beaumont health system is giving out 3x as many shots now as they were a few weeks ago.
"More employers are requiring it, schools are requiring it, so we are seeing that," Pillen said. "We are also seeing the increase in cases as well. The delta variant, we’re seeing concern over that as well.”
Beaumont has about 1,000 J&J doses set to expire in September but is confident they can use them. Hoping the rebound in demand continues throughout the month.
“We're happy to see those numbers, happy to see people coming out, we offer walk-up at all of our clinics so the availability is there for sure,” Pillen said.
It’s unclear as of today how many of those 300,000 expiring doses Michigan still has on hand, but the health department sent about 7,000 doses to Wisconsin on Thursday and are working to send more to Minnesota and Ohio.