Doctor wants providers to know the trick to getting more doses from Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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Published: Dec. 26, 2020 at 7:42 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -Health officials in Alaska got a pleasant surprise last week when they received their first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. As they started to administer the vaccine, they realized there were more doses in the vials than indicated on the label.

The Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged that Pfizer’s first batch does have additional doses per vial with six instead of five. The agency is now urging providers to make sure they draw the additional dose and not waste any of the vaccine.

That has brought challenges, according to Dr. Mike Alter, an emergency medicine physician with Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer, who headed the facilities vaccination team. Because Pfizer didn’t send enough syringes for the extra doses, Alter said providers have used standard sized syringes, which allow some of the vaccine to go to waste. He said the only way to get the maximum number of doses is to use a mix of different syringes with every vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

“The solution that we found is, that if you use four of the Pfizer syringes and two of your regular syringes that there will be enough to comfortably give six doses with each vial,” he said.

Alter wants that information to get out so that providers across the state can vaccinate more people as soon as possible.

“To get every single viable dose out of this initial round of vaccination is incredibly important to us, " said Alter. “And we can vaccinate 20% more people by maximizing what’s in the vial.”

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