By Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin state health officials announced that they’ve administered nearly 2,000,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines during March with the number still climbing – even as some people refuse to get the shot and others are part of “Vaccine Hunters” groups that look for leftover vaccines to distribute to those who want them. (You can track COVID-19 vaccine data in Wisconsin here.)

What About Wasted Doses?

More than 1,800 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been wasted across Wisconsin, according to the Department of Health Services. That number does not include the 500 vaccines that were allegedly intentionally sabotaged by a pharmacist in December. Generally, the waste is accidental; because the vaccines need to be kept at extremely low temperatures, things can easily go wrong.

“St. Nicholas Hospital learned that 28 vials of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine were unintentionally left out unrefrigerated on the night of Feb. 8, 2021. Upon immediate review of the situation, the hospital concluded that these vials were set aside while sorting vaccine; and as a result of human error, the 28 vials were inadvertently left out rather than placed back in the refrigerator as is standard protocol,” a spokesperson from St. Nicholas Hospital said. “HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital firmly believes this situation was a result of human error and not intentional. The hospital has taken this incident very seriously and used it to improve processes and put additional measures in place to ensure it will not happen again.”

Vaccine Hunters on the Prowl

Facebook groups have popped up all over Wisconsin to enable people to find vaccines that would otherwise go to waste.

“We don’t advocate line skipping but we don’t want a dose to go to waste,” said Bob Orech, an organizer of one such group.

Pharmacists and medical professionals are doing their best not to waste vaccine doses. In fact, Dr. Hashim Zaibak of Hayat Pharmacy says they waste fewer doses by going on an as-needed basis. “It’s really difficult because if you mix 100 vaccines and only 50 people show up, then you’re left with 50 doses, then you have to find volunteers or find patients to get,” says Zaibak.

What Do You Think?

Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you, or are you waiting – or not planning to get it at all? I’d love to hear what you think of the vaccine and your reasoning, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or my Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino