COVID-19 vaccine doses sitting unused in freezers, expiring doses being thrown out

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The vaccine against COVID-19 is a light at the end of a long tunnel, but why are thousands of doses still sitting in freezers?

The CDC says 22 million doses have been distributed to hospitals and pharmacies across the country, but only nearly nine million people have received their first dose.

There may a bit of a delay in reporting doses being given out, but it's clear there are some major hurdles.

Some hospitals across the country have had to throw away vaccine doses because they expire shortly after they're taken out of cold storage. Some experts are also blaming rules on who gets priority.

First in line, of course is healthcare workers, first-responders and staff and residents at long term care facilities.

But if doses are going to go unused, many are now saying they should go to other people - whomever is around so that no doses are wasted.

"We have a lot more that we need to do because right now, across the country, the freezers are filling up with this vaccine and it's not where we need it," said Dr. David Shulkin, Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

And this a race against time as the virus continues to spread. More than 370,000 people have died in the United States due to COVID-19 with 27,000 just in the first ten days of the new year.

Japan also recently reported a potentially concerning new variant. Officials with the World Health Organization say the new variants of the virus including the ones first reported in South Africa, United Kingdom and now Japan do not seem to be more deadly but do seem to spread faster.

Preventative measures such as avoiding crowds, distancing and wearing masks remain vital.

"Even as vaccine starts protecting the most vulnerable, we're not going to achieve population, or herd immunity in 2021 and even if it happens in a few pockets it's not going to protect the world," said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan during a WHO conference Monday.
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