More than 200,000 COVID-19 doses wasted since vaccinations began in Maryland, state officials say

There have been 201,562 doses of COVID-19 vaccine wasted statewide in Maryland since vaccinations became available nearly a year ago, according to data released late Friday from the Maryland Department of Health.

The number of wasted doses, as of Tuesday, is a fraction of the nearly 8.78 million doses administered in the state overall as a first or second dose or booster.


Health officials did not say why the doses were discarded or where primarily they were wasted. But the vaccine can expire quickly and has specific temperature requirements after the initial deep freeze for the most widely used mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Other reasons could include damaged packaging or mistakes in preparation or just unwanted doses at a given time.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t given an accounting of all the doses lost, and many states are not making public disclosures.

NBC News, relying on a public records request, reported that by September at least 15 million doses had been discarded across the country. That was out of 438 million doses administered at the time.

The news outlet said four national pharmacy chains — Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid — each reported more than 1 million wasted doses.

That disclosure brought condemnation from some public health experts, who said the United States was hoarding and wasting doses needed by people in other countries who had yet to get their first dose.

Those critics included Dr. William Moss, executive director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center. He said in a recent news release that inequalities were exacerbating the pandemic, and far more doses are needed in developing countries where vaccination rates are extremely low.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said after the disclosure in Maryland that some waste is to be expected.

“It’s hard to avoid wasting doses given how quickly they expire,” he said. “Nonetheless, each dose is a missed opportunity for someone in Maryland who still needs to be vaccinated for their own protection and the health of their families.”