National pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS reportedly account for the majority of wasted COVID-19 vaccine doses, government data obtained by Kaiser Health News shows.
NBC News reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 182,874 wasted doses as of late March. The data reportedly showed CVS was responsible for nearly half of those wasted doses, and Walgreens was responsible for 21%.
According to the report, the CDC data suggested the companies have wasted more doses than states, U.S. territories and federal agencies combined. The vaccine wasted most was reportedly Pfizer's vaccine, which requires storage at ultracold temperatures.
CDC spokesperson Kate Fowlie told NBC News that "a higher percentage of the overall wastage would not be unexpected" because the pharmacy chains were given a much larger amount of doses.
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Walgreens said wasted doses amounted to less than 0.5 percent of the more than 8 million COVID vaccine doses administered by the company in long-term care facilities and through a federal partnership during that time frame.
"Our goal has always been ensuring every dose of vaccine is used," company spokesperson Kris Lathan told NBC News in an email.
CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis told NBC News wasted doses were largely due to "issues with transportation restrictions, limitations on redirecting unused doses, and other factors." He said the waste was limited to "one dose per onsite vaccination clinic," according to the report.
Deerfield-based Walgreens as faced scrutiny over issues with its scheduling process on multiple occasions since it began vaccinations in December.
Last month, the company said it planned to change the COVID vaccine scheduler on its website following complaints that the pharmacy wasn't adhering to federal health officials' recommended timeline for some second doses.
In March, the company apologized for a "technical glitch" with its website that booked second-dose vaccination appointments for several users without also booking the preceding first doses.
"A technical glitch allowed patients in select stores to book appointments for second dose time slots without also booking their first dose. This issue has been resolved," a representative for Walgreens said in a statement on March 18.
"We are committed to honoring vaccination appointments that have been scheduled in our system, and our team members are reaching out to all patients affected to attempt to accommodate them," the company continued. "If supply does not allow us to vaccinate some of these patients, we will prioritize them for appointments as additional vaccine inventory is available. We apologize for the inconvenience."
In early March, both Walgreens and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledged that the pharmacy chain was experiencing problems with its vaccine sign-up, as the company's website showed no availability or would not allow patients to book available first-dose appointments, frustrating eligible Illinois residents seeking to get their shots.
Walgreens revealed Monday that it will provide same-day appointments at stores beginning on Wednesday. The company is also planning to hold "mobile clinics" in underserved neighborhoods of Chicago.