Physicians Face Potential Peril With Leftover Covid Vaccine
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A Texas judge last week dismissed a theft charge against an emergency medicine physician recently fired from his public health job after he gave leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses to people he knew, highlighting the difficult position many clinicians find themselves in when there are unused doses but no one is on hand to administer them to and the clock is ticking.

The charges against the doctor, quickly drew international attention. Although Harris County judge Franklin Bynum has dismissed the charges, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has said the evidence will go to a grand jury.

His defense team said he tried to get takers from healthcare workers and law enforcement at the county vaccination site but, finding no takers, he called people he knew so the 10 leftover doses he had at the end of the day in the punctured bottle of Moderna vaccine would not be wasted. The vaccine in the vial was going to expire 6 hours after being opened.

Fears May Lead to More Waste

As of Sunday, 25.2 million people had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government said it has delivered about 49.9 million doses. John Swartzberg, MD, agrees legal actions will have a chilling effect and could lead to more waste.

Swartzberg: Aim should be to "use every drop of the available vaccine" Vaccine should be given to people who "would benefit the most from it in an equitable way," he says. If the groups who need it the most are not available in the specified viability window, he said, "you give it to anybody you can find. That's much better than throwing it out."

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