About 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Oklahoma will expire at the end of the month.
If they are not used then they will have to be thrown away, representing a great waste of the once highly sought after shots.
Health experts fear the vaccine will go to waste as Oklahoma’s demand for vaccines plummeted by more than 80 percent from mid-April to early June from 33,000 doses distributed per day to about 5,000.
Vaccine oversupply is a problem health departments are addressing nationwide as they try to get millions of unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated.
About 80,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine may go unused and expire at the end of the month in Oklahoma as vaccine demand declines statewide and across the country
“We have withdrawn the expired vaccine from active inventory and are following CDC guidelines on proper disposal,” Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told ABC News.
‘We are seeing a steady decline, and it’s a little worrying.
“We are not achieving the goals we would like to achieve to make sure we are well positioned to move forward into the summer and fall.”
Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Wednesday at a Wall Street Journal Tech Health event that his company is working to give vaccines a longer shelf life.
“We are working very hard, both at the federal and local levels, to do everything possible to ensure that these vaccines can be used and distributed in the best possible way,” he said.
According to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 42 percent of adults in the state have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
One third of Oklahoma residents over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated.
The state is lagging behind the rest of the country, where 63.8 percent of American adults have received at least one injection and more than 53 percent are fully vaccinated, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.
Oklahoma ranks 40 in the nation by percentage of the population fully vaccinated.
The Sooner State faced many challenges in launching the vaccine.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates it is among the most vaccine-hesitant states in the nation, with some counties having a vaccine-hesitant population of more than 30 percent.
Getting the vaccine to the state’s rural population is also a challenge, and the state has even launched a “vaccine van” program, bringing mobile vaccine clinics to the most remote areas of the state.
Oklahoma’s challenges with vaccine hesitation and inability to administer the vaccine to certain populations are a microcosm of a national trend.
Demand for vaccines across the country has plummeted in recent weeks after peaking in late April.
Oklahoma is among the most vaccine-hesitant states in America, with over 30% of people in some counties not wanting the Covid-19 vaccine
Weekly vaccine distribution peaked on April 1, where over 21 million doses were distributed in seven days.
About 5.5 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the past week, a decline of nearly 75%.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are still four percent of Americans who want the vaccine but have yet to get it due to some sort of barrier, real or perceived.
Barriers include lack of time, lack of ability to travel to a vaccination site, the belief that the vaccine costs money (it’s free), or simply not knowing where to find the vaccine.
Experts estimate that the nation will need 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of at least 70% of Americans getting their first vaccine by July 4th.
Neither goal appears to be achievable at the moment, with vaccine demand reaching lows and expiring doses unused.
“I have to be honest with you that, at this point, I don’t see that we’re going to get close to this by July 4th,” Reed said.
“Not to mention that we won’t continue to work hard and diligently to increase our numbers.”