Colorado’s has thousands of soon-to-be expired COVID vaccines. They could go to a country that wants them.
DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said Wednesday that 352,533 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the state are slated to expire in the next two months, as vaccination rates fall in the state.
Gov. Jared Polis told reporters he remains confident providers in the state will be able to administer all of those doses before their expiration dates. And the state’s immunization chief agreed.
“If we continue vaccinating at our current rate we will be on track to get through that supply,” said Heather Roth, immunization branch chief for CDPHE.
Roth said 237,000 Coloradans have yet to receive their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.
“What we’re doing is making sure that we’re going to have enough supply on hand here in Colorado to fulfill the second dose obligation,” Roth said.
Though just how many of those people actually need a second dose remains relatively unknown. Of the 237,000 people, Roth said approximately 90,000 are still within the 42-day window allotted between shots. The other 147,000 are beyond that 42-day window. Roth said they could have been vaccinated with one dose in another state or chose not to receive their second shot.
Colorado has not ordered a weekly vaccine allotment from the federal government since mid-June, relying solely on the supply on hand. Roth said with current demand, she doesn’t anticipate an order any time soon.
“We have enough vaccine supply in [the] state that we are fulfilling of the provider orders that are coming into us weekly with supply that’s already in the state and we’ve been doing that for several weeks in a row,” she said.
Polis believes current advertising efforts will drive the state to at least vaccinate enough people to use those doses. On Wednesday, he announced more incentives for people to get vaccinated including $100 gift cards to Walmart for people who are vaccinated at certain vaccine sites across the state and scholarships for community college students who have been vaccinated.
“We are always hopeful that the FDA will verify that, in fact, they last longer than originally listed on the label,” the governor said.
But if the doses aren’t used before they expire, they could be sent back to the federal government to be distributed overseas, according to Polis.
“Of course we want to do our part and if there are other areas of the world and our government can contribute them abroad we as Coloradans support that,” he said.
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