Covid-19 Vaccine

‘Vaccine Hunters' Searching for Leftover Doses

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Every day across the state, COVID-19 vaccination sites are drawing up injections from vials trying to match the shots with the patients.

“We know how many people are going to come every day and so we only ship enough vaccine and start diluting enough vaccine for the people that are coming in so we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief clinical officer of Yale New Haven Health.

He said early on, they wasted a few shots from appointment no-shows. Now, people rarely miss their chance for vaccination, and they adjusted their procedure. Each site has a designated “diluter.”

“Their only job is to draw up just enough doses just in time for the vaccinators to have smooth throughput,” said Balcezak.

So, there’s hardly a time when vaccines are leftover, but people are scouting across the state. Many are in the New York/Connecticut Vaccine Hunter’s Facebook group that tracks where extra vaccines may be. Most find them at local pharmacies in remote areas.

“I think every store and every pharmacist might have a different attitude,” said group founder Joel Leyden.

He said the discussions focus on how to find pharmacies and include suggestions for politely calling locations in remote areas.

“Call them about one or two o’clock in the afternoon,” said Leyden. “Ask them if they have excess vaccines, and if they say call us back, then you’ve just won the lottery.”

At Yale New Haven Hospital sites, they said if there’s extra, they reach out to patients scheduled for the next day. And many of the vials actually have an extra dose.

“It’s allowing us to get more doses in people’s arms with each vial of vaccine but we’re only scheduling for the five so we’re calling people in and making just-in-time appointments,” said Balcezak.

All in an effort to be resourceful and reach as many people as possible.

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