SALT LAKE CITY – Pharmacists in Utah and across the country are discovering extra doses in vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and the FDA said hospitals can use the extra vaccine.
As Utah hospitals continue to vaccinate their workers, they have found they have 20% more vaccine to use.
"Our front-line pharmacists noticed it right away," said Dr. Erin Fox, one of the senior pharmacy directors at University of Utah Health. "It's just a really nice surprise."
Late Wednesday, the FDA tweeted that it was OK to use extra full doses. So, pharmacists at U of U Health started vaccinating workers with it.
"This is such a scarce resource that there was concern … can we use these extra doses? And, we were so grateful to hear the news yesterday from the FDA," Fox said. "So we started using that extra dose right away."
Fox said so far, it has been easy for their pharmacists to get one full extra dose out of each vial — more vaccine to keep the long line moving, as long as there is somebody available to give a shot.
"It's very easy to get that sixth dose out," she said. "Seven is a little more rare. But six is definitely easy to do."
Fox said it's not unusual for a multidose vial to have a little bit extra and it's something they saw with the H1N1 vaccine.
The FDA is aware that some vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech #COVID19 Vaccine have contained extra product after five doses are obtained. The agency is working with Pfizer to determine the best path forward, and will share additional updates as we have them. https://t.co/0jiiyEmug7— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) December 17, 2020
"This just gives us a little more wiggle room to add more people to the schedule, and again, we're going as fast and as safely as we can," said Fox.
"The fact that we are seeing some daylight at the end of the tunnel, with the arrival of the vaccine, is encouraging for all of us," said Gov. Gary Herbert.
In his last press briefing as governor, Herbert said everybody who wants to get vaccinated may be eligible by March or April — sooner than previously indicated.
"While there is a lot of hope on the horizon with the vaccine, we still have quite a long ways to go, and we need to continue being vigilant to protect individuals against unnecessary illness and death," said state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.
So far, 407 Utahns so have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. That information is now available for all of us to see on the Utah COVID-19 dashboard.