U.S. has plenty of COVID-19 vaccines for kids and booster shots, officials say

Thousands of expired doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been thrown out in some states.
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A health care worker in Fort Collins, Colo., receives one of the first coronavirus vaccines
(Denver Post via Getty Images)

U.S. health officials said that with over 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses available, they believe there is enough for booster shots made available to older Americans, and for young children, for which the vaccine is expected to be approved soon.

The current supply, in addition to the steady production, of more doses are able to accommodate people who want boosters or initial vaccination, federal and state health authorities said, according to The Associated Press.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday, "I hope that we have the level of interest in the booster ... that we need more vaccines. That's simply not where we are today. We have plenty of vaccines."

President Joe Biden promised an additional 500 million of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine this week to countries around the world, which would double the U.S.'s foreign contribution. Countries in places like Africa are struggling to get enough vaccines, the AP reported.

States are trying to not order too many doses to prevent them from being wasted. States like Idaho and Kansas, which have low vaccination rates, report tossing out thousands of expired doses or having difficulty using up vaccines that will expire this fall, according to the wire service.

The vaccines come in vials with multiple doses, and once they are opened, depending on the manufacturer, there are only usable for six to 12 hours, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unopened vaccine vials can stay on the shelf for months.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine vials have five doses, Pfizer has six, and Moderna contains 11 to 15.

"We are going to see more doses that go unused over time," said Wisconsin health secretary Karen Timberlake, the AP reported. "They come in multidose files. They don't come in nice, tidy individual single-serving packages."

While state health officials have said they tried to only request what the expected need is according to pharmacies and healthcare providers from the federal supply, the amount has decreased since their wide availability began in spring.