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Unclaimed 2nd vaccine doses to be re-distributed, gov says

January 22, 2021 GMT
Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announces details related to the upcoming transition of leadership in the Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor's race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)
Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announces details related to the upcoming transition of leadership in the Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor's race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)
Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announces details related to the upcoming transition of leadership in the Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Cox, who won the governor's race this week, said he is prepared to continue the fight against COVID-19 when he succeeds Herbert in January. He said he hopes to focus on ramping up testing, adding more contact tracers and implementing vaccine distribution. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is ordering vaccine shots set aside as second doses be re-distributed as first doses to new people if the original patient doesn’t come back for their follow-up appointment a few weeks later.

The second shots will be released if they’re not claimed within seven days - but latecomers can still come back at a different time, he said Thursday during his monthly news conference on PBS-Utah.

Some state lawmakers have suggested not holding back a reserve of vaccine for second doses, but Cox said that health experts advise against that step.

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Cox said the state is also trying to “claw back” vaccine doses from pharmacies partnered with the federal government. They’re falling behind local public health departments in distributing the doses quickly, he said. Cox has mandated that vaccine doses be used within seven days

“They have too much vaccine,” he said. “The federal government has given them more vaccine than they need.”

One factor is billing private insurance, which will cover part of the cost of a vaccine but going through the process takes longer.