Bonus doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are boosting supplies in the Triad. A special syringe is allowing health care providers to extract an extra dose per vial.
Health departments in our area are already benefiting from the surprise sixth dose.
In Alamance County it is allowing the health department to open more appointments.
“It’s kind of a blessing to be able to get those extra doses out because that means more shots in arms and that’s really our mission right now, is get more shots in arms, do it efficiently and do it safely,” said Tony Lo Giudice, the county health director.
Lo Giudice says two nurses are dedicated to drawing up the vaccine and extracting an additional dose from each vial.
The Pfizer vaccine was designed to contain five doses, but health care providers have been able to squeeze out a sixth dose when using a low dead space syringe.
“There is less dead space and therefore more usable space that we can actually draw up those doses and measure exactly the 0.3 mL dose that we are trying to get,” said Dr. Jordan DeAngelis, pharmacy coordinator and emergency preparedness for Duke University Hospital.
DeAngelis says it’s a common practice in pharmaceuticals to overfill vials to make up for the liquid that sticks to the sides of the container or dead space.
He says the bonus dose is no different than the rest.
“It is no different than the liquid that is the first dose, second dose, third dose. It is all mixed, it is all the same concentration of vaccine. There is absolutely no difference from it, whether it was the first or last syringe drawn from that vial,” DeAngelis said.
FOX8 checked in with other county health departments to find out if they are having similar success. Randolph, Davidson, Forsyth and Guilford counties all said they are typically able to get six doses per vial.