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ORMC preparing to dispose thousands of Pfizer vaccine set to expire

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:34 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -Hospitals in West Texas are facing mounting pressure as COVID cases continue to spike.. and more patients need beds to be treated for the virus.

Now the staff at ORMC has even more bad news -- it’s getting ready to throw away thousands of vaccine doses because there aren’t enough Odessans willing to take them before they expire.

ORMC said it’s prepared to throw away two thousand three hundred Pfizer vaccines by the end of the month.

“Personally, I feel bad throwing away vaccines when I know there are people around the globe that could really use this right now,” said Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rohith Saravanan.

Dr. Saravanan said since the demand for COVID-19 vaccinations has dropped off, it’s unlikely that enough people will take these doses before they expire.

I asked if any other nearby hospitals could make better use of them.. but it turns out everyone else has the same problem.

“We even wrote back to the health department and said, can you take these back so you can redistribute it to other places that need it in? The health department says everyone has an excess, so we cannot take it,” said Dr. Saravanan.

Over in Big Spring, the staff is facing a similar dilemma.

At Scenic Mountain Medical Center, they have 120 doses of the Pfizer and 180 doses of the Moderna vaccine that will expire by the end of this month.

Some doctors would say It’s disappointing to throw away doses, especially now that hospitals in Midland and Odessa are starting to fill with COVID patients.

“We don’t want to waste the vaccine,” said Dr. Saravanan.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services there are 38 percent of people fully vaccinated, ages 12 and up, in Ector County.

Forty-seven percent of people have at least received one COVID dose.

Dr. Saravanan isn’t expecting demand to pick up any time soon, so ORMC is scaling back on orders from the state so they don’t wind up in this situation again.

“We haven’t taken any more vaccines from the health department probably in the last two to three months because we knew that the demand was coming down,” said Dr. Saravanan.

But it’s not too late for all those doses.

Dr. Saravanan said while there’s still time left, Odessa Regional Medical Center’s goal is to encourage people to get the shot, so all those doses don’t go to waste.

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