What happens to the remaining vaccine doses?

Q&A

We spoke with Giovan Maria Zanini the cantonal pharmacist to understand how the excess quantities of product are used, which must be administered within six hours of dilution

What happens to the remaining vaccine doses?
What happens to the remaining vaccine doses?

What happens to the remaining vaccine doses?

What happens to the remaining vaccine doses?

What is done with excess vaccine doses?

The issue is very topical during these days, also following the controversy raised in neighboring Italy after some doctors in Modena decided to administer the unused serum to friends and relatives. «It is not only probable, but «certain» that at the end of the day there is some doses left over», explained cantonal pharmacist Giovan Maria Zanini.

Starting from the vaccination campaign launched in homes for the elderly, Zanini explains that «the institutions were asked to collect the number of people who intended to be vaccinated, guests and staff. From here we were told the sum of doses that the institute needed. Since each bottle contains 5 doses of serum, we are forced to round the indicated number (for example, if you need doses for 61 people, 65 must be given). There is a difference of 163 doses between the exact amount of doses required and what we had to supply due to rounding. It may also happen that an employee changes his mind, or that a guest is no longer able to receive the dose that was assigned to him, so potentially the amount of advanced doses could even be greater».

«We have made it clear to the medical directors of homes for the elderly not to waste these doses at all. Zanini clarifies, the doctors had the task of identifying only the patients who could have the requirements to receive the product. «If the vaccine has been inoculated to people over 85, that’s fine».

Who has received the first dose thanks to the extra - how will they do for the booster?

Those who received the administration benefiting from the excess doses of homes for the elderly, will be automatically called for the second injection «Anyone who has benefited from the dose improperly will also be called in a month to receive the second dose. Otherwise we would make another mistake».

Are there 5 or 6 doses in a bottle?

According to Swissmedic, the possibility of obtaining 5 or 6 doses depends on the material used for vaccination. With special syringes and careful handling, 6 precise doses can be obtained from one vial. However, Zanini clarifies, «the priority is to administer a dose that is correct from the point of view of volume, ie 0.3 milliliters. With injections, a standard syringe is normally used and, once filled, the first droplet is released. With this procedure, it is no longer possible to extract six doses from the bottle. The instruction of the Federal Office of Public Health is therefore to calculate five precise doses, the sixth only in very special cases, ie: only if you have precision syringes.

So why arent the special syringes offered instead of the standard ones?

This would create a supply problem, explains Zanini: «Millions are needed all over the world to guarantee the administration of the vaccine. In Europe alone, with its half a billion inhabitants, if 75% of the population were vaccinated, 700 million syringes would be needed for two doses. We already have a problem finding standard syringes, let alone if we had to get special ones, which have an extremely small market volume».

Can the residues of the doses be mixed to obtain a complete one?

No, doses cannot be taken from different bottles. «Mixing the vials is against the rules». «Also because, taking a syringe from different bottles also runs a risk from a microbiological point of view». Also according to Swissmedic, «it must be ensured that the recipient is always given 0.3 ml of the vaccine and that this dose is taken from a vial. If it is not possible to withdraw a complete dose of 0.3 ml, the contents must be disposed of». «The same principle was reiterated by EMA, the European Medicines Agency: «The sixth dose should only be used if complete, and the quantity must not be obtained by mixing the contents of other bottles, even if produced by the same pharmaceutical company».

What happens to the residue left in the bottle?

«It must be thrown away, following the system of collection and disposal of vaccination material». «When there is no longer a chance to get a full dose, it would be wrong to administer it. If 0.2 milliliters are administered, the necessary protection is no longer guaranteed». In short, the effectiveness is guaranteed only if a 0.3 milliliter dose is inoculated.

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