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Quebec’s ‘Plan B’ for leftover COVID-19 vaccines at the end of the day

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Despite strict protocols when it comes to preparing, handling and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, there are cases when there are leftover vials at the end of the day.

Regional health authorities say it’s rare but they do have backup plans to avoid vaccine spoilage and waste.

CIUSSS de L’ouest de L’ile de Montreal assistant director Talia Toledano says it’s rare there are leftovers but when there are, they make sure they never go to waste.

“Sometimes we’ll have someone who is 85 who will come in, who made a mistake and didn’t take an appointment when they thought they did, so we’ll take their name and phone number and keep it,” says Toledano.

“We have a board by age group and then if we have leftovers we call from the oldest person on the list to come and get their vaccine.”

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Toledano says the priority always remains vaccinating the elderly.

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A spokesperson for Quebec’s Health Ministry says they’re aware leftover vials at the end of the day can happen but there are strict preparation protocols. Vials are prepared every morning according to the exact number of appointments.

“In the event there are doses left over at the end of the day different means can be used to administer the remaining doses such as vaccinating staff and attendants. But it’s up to each regional health centre to decide. It’s important to note, no vaccine is wasted.”

There have been cases when vaccination centres have gotten creative at the end of the day.

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Toledano says some centres have been known to call the local police station.

“We don’t want to waste any doses. So as a last resort, if there are police officers, because usually they are very close to proximity to a vaccination centre and they can go out. It can happen that maybe we call them when there’s leftover vaccine,” Toledano says.

The SPVM confirmed to Global News that while it is rare for officers to receive leftover doses, it has happened in exceptional situations.

“It is available to police officers since they can easily go to vaccination centres and are part of essential services but vaccinations are not compulsory for police officers and is done on a voluntary basis.”

Meantime, as pharmacies prepare to begin administering shots next week, they, too, are prepared with backup plans.

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Read more: Montreal pharmacies to begin booking coronavirus vaccine appointments

President of the Quebec Pharmacy Owners Association Benoit Morin says he will be surprised if there are leftovers at the end of the day, but in the case that there are, their priority will be anyone 65 years and older.

“We’re planning not to have any shots left and if there is any, it will be one or two and we’ll call people on a waiting list that we will keep,” Morin says.

“We will also focus on older staff members in some cases.”

Some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area started taking appointments on Monday. About 38,000 doses were sent in this first phase, which rounds out to approximately 100 doses for each pharmacy.

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