SMITH COUNTY, Texas — More than 7,000 vaccines have been wasted in Texas according to recent data from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). There are many reasons why these shots never made it into someone’s arm.
Providers are also required to report why any dose isn't usable. Common reasons are that they simply expired, a natural disaster happened, a power outage or refrigeration issues. The Centers for Disease Control say these vaccines can be left at room temperature for up to six hours. After that, if you don't use it, you lose it.
Smith County has 12.7% of people fully vaccinated and has thrown away 543 doses. UT-Health says the most recent mishap was due to "a temperature issue with the vaccine that resulted when the refrigerator holding several vaccine vials was inadvertently unplugged."
DSHS released the following statement:
"We have encouraged vaccine providers to use all of their vaccine and try not to waste a single dose. That means if multi-dose vials are open, and it’s the end of the day, providers should do everything they can to administer those final doses to, ideally, someone in our eligible/vulnerable populations. But if not, those doses should be given to any adult that wants to vaccinated so the dose is not wasted."
CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System in Longview heard the message loud and clear.
"At the end of the day, we would take the number of people that didn't show and we will put it out on social media and Facebook," CEO of the system, Todd Hancock, said. "And we would get more than enough people that are willing to come up last minute and get the vaccine."
They gave 400 shots on Mar. 14, first come first served, and plan to do this as many times as it takes to make sure no vaccines get left behind. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for future opportunities to get the shot.