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COVID-19 vaccine stocks low, gov’t trying to balance availability with demand

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The government and health care system are being faced with a peculiar problem: determining the quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to stock to meet the country’s needs but avoid wastage.

While COVID-19 vaccination rates have slowed now that there has been a return to normalcy, vaccines are kept in stock to provide for those who still wish to become vaccinated or receive booster shots to sustain their protection.

In recent weeks, there have been complaints by some persons that AstraZeneca and Pfizer brand vaccines have been unavailable at vaccination centres.

On Thursday, Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas explained that this has occurred as the Ministry of Health awaits new shipments of the vaccines.

The ministry, however, is now faced with determining the delicate balance between having sufficient vaccines in stock and too many which will cause wastage as they expire and must be disposed of.

“This represents a challenge for the government and for the Ministry of Health in particular because these vaccines are not available in small doses and so we have made significant investments.

“Over the last six to eight months we would have dumped a lot of these vaccines as a result of them being expired.

“So, it’s a question of trying to come to a balance and to ensure that we have sufficient vaccines to allow persons to do that.

“I think until there is a new scare, persons may not be sensitised to the fact that there is a continual need for us to have more vaccines,” said Minister Nicholas.

He also indicated that the Cabinet felt disheartened by the fact that decreasing turnout has caused precious vaccines to be discarded.

“Certainly inside cabinet, there has been a lamenting view that we have dumped so many of these vaccines because despite the many public invitations for persons to come forward and to get additional boosters, by and large the numbers were not encouraging.

“So, based on the fact that we had to procure these vaccines in large sums, we are actually seeing a wastage of the resource. So, it’s an equation that we’re gonna have to come back to and determine how we thread that needle.”

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