CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Tidelands Health officials have been able to stretch their COVID-19 vaccine supply by 20 percent by using a very precise method to ensure not a single drop is wasted.
Pfizer’s vaccine vials were supposed to allow for only 5 doses, but with very careful methods, Tidelands Health staff members have been able to average 6 doses per vial.
Officials said this precision has helped them address a growing demand for the vaccine while battling a very limited supply.
“We’re making sure we get every drop out of every single vial we have, and we are still on a track of zero waste,” Tidelands’ Chief Operating Officer Gayle Resetar said. “We want to put shots in as many arms as we can and squeeze every bit out of every vial we receive.”
Clinicians are specifically assigned to the task at the health system’s two regional vaccination sites. The workers prep the syringes at a dedicated draw station, and the syringes are then administered by other members of the clinical team.
Officials said this allows the clinicians to focus on emptying each vial without having to worry about the rush of administering the shot.
About 2,000 additional doses have been administered because of the health system’s efforts.
“We are working diligently to be good stewards of this vaccine,” Resetar said. “The vaccine is in short supply, and we aren’t wasting a drop of it. Our team has developed a streamlined process to make sure we are following the manufacturer’s guidelines precisely and getting as much vaccine as possible from every vial.”
Because of the vaccine’s ultra-cold storage requirements and short shelf life once removed from refrigeration, managers are matching daily supply with appointments scheduled to ensure no doses go unused before their expiration, a press release stated.
Teams also transport the vaccine in specially designed coolers to the designated vaccination sites daily.