The state’s Department of Health is working to ensure vaccines are going into arms instead of going into the trash.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the expiration dates for Johnson and Johnson vaccines by six weeks. After the decision, CT DPH began working with local health care systems to create a plan if and when there is a need or excess amount of vaccines.
For perspective, if one health system needs vaccines, DPH will go to another health system to get those doses. If another health care provider doesn’t have the vaccines, DPH will go directly to vaccine distribution agencies.
“Based on what we’ve seen over the last few weeks, we expect that we will use all of the viles before the August 7th revised expiration date,” said Eric Arlia, senior director of pharmacy at Hartford HealthCare. “That extra six weeks were really critical though, there definitely would’ve been some waste if that had not occurred.”
UConn Health is also a part of the redistribution plan and issued a statement this statement: “We have not experienced any product expiration issues, we are meeting vaccine demand without any difficulty and we are still actively providing vaccines to our patients,”
According to DPH, they’ve ordered at least 10,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines within the last two weeks. Those doses aren’t expected to expire anytime soon.
When it comes to future plans, DPH issued this statement:
“Now that we are at a stage in the vaccine program where the demand for vaccine does not meet our current supply, we have advised our providers that while we still want to avoid wasted doses as much as possible, it is more important to ensure that every person who wants a dose can get one.”
Health leaders are also warning against the Covid-19 delta variant. The latest variant was first identified in India has since spread to the U.K. , U.S. and Connecticut with 43 confirmed cases around the state, according to DPH.
“This one is probably 60% more effective in transmission as compared to other viruses,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford Healthcare. “It seems to be a much more fit virus as compared to some of the other viruses.”
Wu tells NBC Connecticut there is cause for concern if the variant continues to spread. He also mentions that those who are vaccinated do have a higher level of protection of the variant as opposed to those who have yet to get vaccinated.
“We’re going to see more death, more hospitalizations if people aren’t vaccinated and see it spread to more people at this point,” he said.