As the country continues to find COVID-19 vaccinations striking out when compared with the massive demand, a seemingly simple improvement is waiting on deck.
The problem of supply shortage could be at least partially solved by using partial remnants in the vaccination vials.
It’s not exactly like the “five-second rule” — the idea that it’s OK to eat food dropped on the floor if it’s picked up within five seconds – but there are similarities.
Those remnants could be “pooled” and administered quickly to an anxious public, if only the Federal Drug Administration would give the green light.
The pooling involves saving the leftovers from a vaccination in a vial and combining it with other remnants to create a full dose.
Pharmacists, many of whom regularly execute the pooling of flu vaccines, chemotherapy medications and more, believe it would help the coronavirus vaccine process.
One executive told NBC News those remnants form a “heartbreaking” loss.
“It doesn’t look like a lot at the bottom of the bottle… ” said Dr. Stephen Jones, CEO of Inova Health System, based in Falls Church, Va. “But there are times where there’s almost a full dose at the end of the vial, which is heartbreaking to let that go to waste.”
So why hasn’t the FDA relaxed the standards?
“This is an infection control measure,” an FDA spokeswoman said in a statement.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain no preservatives and run the risk of contamination.
But pharmacists push back, pointing to the urgency and the ability for a quick turnaround.
“If the vial is used right away, with a new vial with the same lot number, then the risk of contamination is extremely low.” Stefanie Ferreri, a prominent educator at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, said in the NBC story.