US has thrown away 82 million COVID-19 vaccines, CDC

Millions of vaccines have expired and been thrown out showing the inefficiencies in distribution and complacent waste.

Updated: June 7, 2022 - 12:06pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Over 82 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been wasted since the start of the pandemic, including roughly 11% distributed by the federal government, according to the Center for Disease Control. 

CVS and Walgreens have thrown away about 25% of the vaccines, as a result of unused supply. Other pharmaceutical companies such as Costco, Publix and Rite Aid threw away few vaccines but their percentage of throwaways – 25% – was comparatively higher. 

The finding are in stark contrast to an earlier news report that only 65 million doses were wasted in February. 

Oklahoma and Alaska are the states the highest overall throwaway numbers. Oklahoma threw away 28% of the 4 million doses given to the state, while Alaska thew out 21% of its overall 1 million doses.

CVS received roughly 90 million total vaccines, but had to throw away 11.8 million. Thirteen percent of the doses came from state governments.

"Those vials have a very limited shelf life, which unfortunately means unused vaccine will be disposed of," CVS said in a statement. "The same challenge is faced by others administering vaccinations."

Walgreens wasted 8.3 million vaccines, or 10.5%, of the 79.6 million it received.

Many of the doses from the pharmaceutical companies had to be thrown away because minimum state orders were too large to be fully distributed, according to NBC News.

In addition, many of the distributions locations reportedly knew they would waste vaccines but were willing to do so so they could get doses to those who want it. 

"The latest CDC guidance advises that providing COVID-19 vaccinations should be prioritized, even if it leads to vaccine waste," Walgreens.

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