Iowa has started tossing out tens of thousands of expiring COVID vaccine doses as demand for the shots continues to sag.
The state has discarded 81,186 doses of the vaccine so far, said Sarah Ekstrand, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health. That includes doses that expired, plus some that were wasted for other reasons, such as when a multiple-dose vial was opened and couldn’t be used up quickly enough.
Ekstrand said Monday that federal officials said states could not return unused vaccines to the manufacturers or donate them to other states or countries. “We have exhausted all options prior to vaccine expiring,” she said in an email to the Des Moines Register.
The department warned last month that the state might have to discard about 217,000 doses of vaccine by the end of August unless demand picked up. Ekstrand said Monday that about 30,000 of those doses are Johnson & Johnson shots, whose expiration dates have been bumped back to mid-September by federal regulators.
Nationwide, millions of doses are at risk of expiring.