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NHS Under Stress To Redistribute Near-Expiry Of Covid Vaccines

The NHS (National Health Services) within the United States has another problem in its hands. Progress towards vaccination has been slow while the Delta variant of the Sars-COV-2 has been rearing its head for a renewed attack. The urgent need for full vaccination of the maximum number of Americans has never been more in this pandemic of the unvaccinated.

NHS Under Stress To Redistribute Near-Expiry Of Covid Vaccines

The 2 most reliable vaccines in the United States at the moment are those of Pfizer and Moderna. The race against time has never been so intense as testing is yet to be completed on children for official permission to use on children between the ages of 5 to 11 years. All vaccines are presently being administered on emergency use only while side effects are being observed every now and then. The Pfizer vaccine is now being reported as having 39% efficacy only and this is being verified.

NHS Under Stress To Redistribute Near-Expiry Of Covid Vaccines

In the midst of all these activities, while the threat of the Delta variant of the Sars-COV-2 variant is looming closer and closer, the expiry dates of the vaccines are fast approaching.      

The NHS has been able to redistribute 40000 vaccines while 170000 vaccines in the United Kingdom are set to go waste as their expiry dates are within a fortnight.  

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation within the United States recommends an interval of 8 to 12 weeks within both doses of either vaccine. Further research has shown that a longer interval between 2 doses is maybe even better and more effective.

An NHS practitioner has pointed out that children who are coming up for their second dose of the vaccine before 8 weeks are being turned away. She urged the authorities to allow a gap of slightly less than 8 weeks so that thousands of vaccines can be saved from having to be thrown away. 

The main problem is that the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines for people under 40 years of age up to a minimum age of 18 years, have a low shelf life and can be refrigerated for only a month. These vaccines were meant to be administered within a period of 3 weeks and the recent findings of a recommended interval of at least 8 weeks mean that a lot of the vaccines expire. The other problem is that the Astrozeneca vaccine, which has a longer shelf life of 6 months, cannot be administered to people within the age groups of 18 to 40 years of age.

The NHS has another problem with the vast remainder of unvaccinated people in the age group of 18 to 80 years of age and the unpredictability of when they will come up for vaccination. It is extremely difficult to achieve a judicious balance of distribution to states and counties as per requirement; some may get more, some less. The option available with the NHS is to redistribute extra doses to areas where they are required which is what is being attempted right now.

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On one hand, there is both reluctance and resistance to vaccination and then there is the risk of having to turn away people who take the step to come up for vaccination. Health care officials know quite well that it may be very difficult to get back a person who has been turned away from vaccination. 

The United Kingdom has extra doses of the Astrozeneca vaccine and they are being distributed to poorer countries. This will put stress on these countries who will have to administer the doses as quickly as possible before the expiry dates.       

In all, it’s a race against time to get everyone vaccinated in time and within the recommended interval between doses.

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