Feds extend COVID vaccines' expiration date to 6 months to save doses, boost inoculation rates

Vaccines were initially good for three months, then four-and-a half and now six months, if stored correctly.

Updated: July 30, 2021 - 6:32pm

U.S. regulators saved hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses from being thrown away after they extended the expiration date of the vaccines for the second time.

The move is an attempt to salvage expiring shots to battle the nation's summer surge in infections, according to the Associated Press. 

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson saying that company's doses remain safe and effective for at least six months when properly stored. The move gives the shots an extra six weeks amid efforts to get more Americans vaccinated. 

Similar efforts are happening in states across the country.

The surge in infections is largely due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has spread rapidly, particularly among unvaccinated people. Inoculation rates have climbed only slightly after a steep fall from their April peak, the wire service also reports.