Genesee County Health Department mindful when scheduling appointments to avoid leftover doses

Genesee County Health Department following plan to make sure every dose gets used
Genesee County Health Department
Genesee County Health Department(source: WJRT)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:41 PM EST
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (02/22/2021) - The United States is passing a grim milestone, surpassing 500,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Health professionals are counting on vaccines to keep that number from growing much higher. To do it, they must follow strict safety procedures like making sure shots are used within a certain time frame or else they can go to waste.

The Genesee County Health Department has a plan, making sure every last dose gets used.

So far, the department has administered more than 17,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, dealing mostly with the Moderna vaccine.

It comes with ten doses per vial, something healthcare workers have to keep in mind when scheduling appointments to avoid having leftovers at the end of each day.

”We try to schedule it in equal increments of ten, so instead of scheduling 505, we would try and schedule 510, so that we have an equal number of vaccines as we do to appointments,” Kimberly VanSlyke-Smith said. VanSlyke-Smith is the Director of Nursing Services for the Genesee County Health Department.

Still, life happens. If someone wasn’t feeling well or they got a flat tire, that 510 could quickly turn into 508.

So what happens with the two remaining doses in the vial?

VanSlyke-Smith says each day, they’ll typically have less than ten leftover doses, but if they’re not administered within six hours, they’ll have to be thrown away.

”There’s enough people out there that want the vaccine. I don’t think that there’s any reason to be throwing doses away. However, I also think that it’s responsible to try and still meet the priority guidelines while we’re doing that,” VanSlyke-Smith said.

Weeks into the vaccine rollout, they have protocols and systems in place to find someone to receive the extra dose, going first to their cancellation list with people on their pre-registration priority list.

If not, they check for family members in the area who meet the current priority guidelines like those 65 and older.

Next would be their regular volunteers who also fall into that priority category, including retired doctors and nurses.

”We have not had any problems reaching at least 90% each week of the vaccine that we are delivered and using that and getting it out into the arms of community members,” VanSlyke-Smith said.

Although the department is receiving more Moderna vaccine than the Pfizer vaccine, VanSlyke-Smith says leftover doses is less frequent with the Pfizer vaccine because each vial contains six doses rather than ten.

For more information from the Genesee County Health Department related to their vaccination effort, click here.

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