States race to use COVID-19 vaccines before they expire
Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been saved from the trash after U.S. regulators extended their expiration date for a second time, part of a nationwide effort to salvage expiring shots to battle the nation's summer surge in infections.
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson declaring that the doses remain safe and effective for at least six months when properly stored. The FDA's move gives the shots an extra six weeks as public officials press more Americans to get inoculated.
Similar efforts are happening in multiple states as public health officials try to ensure that soon-to-expire shots are put into arms before they must be discarded.
The surge in infections is largely due to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which has spread rapidly, particularly among unvaccinated people. Inoculation rates have climbed only slightly after a steep fall from their April peak.
“It’s a critically important time — we have children headed back to school in just a few weeks’ time,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the public health department in Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Federal health officials have shipped an additional 8 million doses of the J&J shot to states that have not yet been used, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine-tracking website. The company did not share specific expiration dates.
The J&J vaccine is not the only one facing expiration. States also report that many Pfizer and Moderna doses are approaching expiration, which is set at six months from the manufacturing date. In Louisiana, about 100,000 Pfizer doses are set to expire in about a week, for example.
Governors are pleading with the public to get vaccinated, and some are...