LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health is warning thousands of COVID vaccine doses are set to expire this month. If the vaccines aren’t administered by the end of June, they’ll be tossed.
Vaccines have a certain shelf life, 4 months for Johnson and Johnson, 7 for Moderna – and if they’re not used in time, they can’t be used at all.
But the mad dash to the clinics has calmed to a trickle, with demand slowing over time.
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health says the decreased demand has led to vaccine stockpiles, with thousands of unopened vials set to be canned if they’re not used soon.
Johnson and Johnson has the largest expiring batch, with most of the states 70,000 doses nearing the end.
“About 60,000 will expire sometime in June,” Dillaha said, but that’s not all, between 13,000 and 14,000 doses of Pfizer are also in danger, with more batches of all there types of vaccine set to expire in July.
Dillaha explains that the biggest problem is a lack of demand and less Arkansans willing to get vaccinated.
“The hesitancy we’ve seen are the vaccines in general,” she said. She adds that many who wanted to get the shot have done so already.
Governor Hutchinson has even created incentives to up the state-wide vaccine rate, including free lottery scratch-offs for those who follow through on their appointments, and gift cards from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
But there are ways ADH plans to use the doses before they go bad, starting with spreading the vials across the state.
“People need vaccine, other people have doses they don’t think they can use, and so we redistribute it,” Dillaha explained.
The state is also ordering less vaccine doses with less frequency to use up the current stock.