SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Sacramento public health worker is looking for answers from Rite Aid after she was told by several pharmacists they throw away their extra COVID-19 vaccines.
Curiosity turned into complete shock for a public health worker who called the Rite Aid Pharmacy, located off of Watt Avenue, to see if they had any extra doses of the vaccine.
The worker spoke to NewsNation affiliate KTXL under the condition of anonymity.
“‘She said, ‘Well, again, we’re only vaccinating people 65 and older,’ so I said, ‘Well, do you just mean you’re going to throw them away at the end of the night?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, we just throw them away,’” the worker told KTXL.
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She called another Rite Aid off of Norwood Avenue to see if they would have a different answer.
“They basically confirmed the same thing,” the health worker said. “They said they didn’t have vaccine leftover but if they did, they can only go to someone 65 and older.”
Rite Aid currently accepts appointments for those in California’s Phase 1A vaccination plan between 10 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. After vaccinating high priority groups first, CDHP policy says they can administer any extra or near-expired doses to lower priority groups, but these frozen doses have to be defrosted with a shelf life of only six hours.
“You know what time you took it out, you know how long you have, you know you’ve allocated for as many appointments as you have for the day and so it’s very obvious that people aren’t showing up for it,” the worker said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all COVID-19 vaccine providers are required to report the number of doses that have been unused or expired each day. A policy that is not regularly enforced.
COVID-19 vaccines are also becoming more scarce after recent winter weather affected supply rollout.
“To me, I just don’t think that’s right,” the worker told KTXL. “If you know this vaccine expires at 8, then maybe around 7:15, 7:30, you can go out in the aisles and say, ‘Hey, we have some leftover vaccine that would otherwise be thrown out. Would you like it?’ There needs to be a better effort on Rite Aid’s part in getting people vaccinated.”
The worker said trashing vaccines that haven’t expired is “unacceptable.”
Rite Aid responded to NewsNation affiliate KTXL’s request for comment with a written statement:
Given that the current approved COVID-19 vaccinations have a limited shelf-life, should there be any additional doses available on any day due to missed appointments or other situations, Rite Aid is following CDC waste protocol.