DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — When the COVID-19 vaccine made its way to the state of Alabama in 2020, the Alabama Department of Public Health along with over 1,400 providers were meticulous in making sure vaccines doses did not go to waste.

In fact, in the early stages of the distribution, Alabama saw little to no waste, but now as more people are being fully vaccinated, the amount of expired doses has increased.

“As illegibility increased and as more people were able to take the vaccine then obviously we had situations where we would have fewer persons coming in then we would be able to accommodate when it came to doses and vials,” Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Dr. Landers says a vaccine has up to 12 hours after opening until it is considered expired, which can be another factor in the wastage.

Landers says Alabama has seen about 14,000 Johnson and Johnson doses, about 26,000 Moderna doses, and about 110,000 Pfizer doses go to waste but compared to the Alabamians that have received the vaccine, these numbers are significantly low.

“While that wastage is there, well over 2 million people fully vaccinated and 2.5 million people having at least one dose,” Landers said. “So again our wastage in Alabama is very small.”

Now that booster shots are becoming available, Dr. Landers says it is possible to see a decrease in vaccine waste, but how the doses are being handled should be taken into consideration when trying to preserve the vaccine.

“It’s really just a matter of storage and handling, keeping your product guidelines in place and trying to use every bit of the dose that you can,” Landers said.