Health officials said more doses of the Pfizer vaccine can be used than previously expected. Hospitals said some of the vaccine vials holds an extra dose, which was recently approved to use for local health care workers.
According to Integris Health, the FDA originally approved using only 5 doses of the vaccine per vial. However, after discovering there was enough for a sixth, they said now several more on the frontline could be vaccinated.
“We basically received 20 percent more doses than we thought we were going to get,” said Steven Howell, Pharmacy Manager for Integris. “So that’s 20 percent more people that can get their vaccination and feel a little more protected.”
Earlier this week, a guidance from the FDA went out to local hospitals stating not to use the extra dose. But officials with Integris said after some reevaluation, a resolution came down, granting each hospital permission. Howell said the new information came just in time, so none of the vaccine went to waste.
“We did not throw away any doses,” said Howell. “We were hoping for clarification quickly, and that email came in just as we needed it.”
The vaccine is in short supply. Pfizer only made enough for 12.5 million people. Howell has been working on this vaccine since June and said it's been a learning process for everyone.
“It’s just fascinating to watch the evolution of not knowing much about it,” said Howell. “Not knowing how the process is going to work until finally you have it figured out and ready to go.”
Integris said by the end of this week, they'll have over 3,000 of their frontline workers vaccinated, which would be about 45% of their staff.
“I think our participation rate has been a little bit higher than we thought it was going to be,” said Howell. “It’s been a great success this week.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the state is expecting over 160,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of this month.