Gov. Beshear: Vaccine doses given at Lexington Walgreens 'shouldn't have happened'

Posted at 11:31 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 09:28:07-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear criticized the administering of vaccine doses at two Kentucky Walgreens locations but said mistakes are bound to happen as the unprecedented roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines continues.

On Monday, Gov. Beshear said he learned two Walgreens stores, one in Lexington and one in Louisville, had given excess doses of the vaccine to some people who were not included in the state's initial phase of vaccine distribution.

"Under all the policies in place, it shouldn't have happened," Gov. Beshear said. "I don't think it was intentional, but it should've been done differently."

The vaccine is now only available to frontline healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities, according to the state's distribution plan.

Walgreens has partnered with the federal government to administer the vaccine, beginning with long-term care facilities in Kentucky.

Once thawed, the vaccine doses can only be used for five days, according to an email from a spokesperson for Walgreens. Some doses were given in Walgreens stores with clinics on Christmas Eve to ensure none of it would be wasted, the email reads.

The full statement from Walgreens:

"COVID-19 vaccines are not available to the general public at this time. We continue to work with long-term care facilities to meet their vaccination needs as part of the CDC's Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program. When scheduling clinics, facilities are responsible for determining the number of individuals and vaccine doses necessary.

In the initial days of providing vaccinations to long-term care facilities in Kentucky, we experienced an isolated situation in which the amount of vaccine doses requested by facilities exceeded the actual need. Per CDC guidance, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can be at refrigerated temperatures for only five days. We are committed to eliminating scenarios where vaccine expires due to shelf life while at the same time focusing our efforts on immunizing eligible patient populations in each roll-out phase. Remaining doses from the scheduled clinics in Kentucky were immediately reallocated and used in facilities with clinics on Christmas Eve that were originally scheduled to occur at a later date. Additional excess doses were then offered to local first responders, Walgreens pharmacy and store team members and residents of the community, many of whom were over age 65. These measures were taken to ensure every dose of a limited vaccine supply was used to protect patients and communities.

We will utilize excess vaccine inventory in priority patient populations and continue to work closely with state and federal health agencies in our efforts to vaccinate residents in long-term care facilities and ensure requested doses meet their needs."

Gov. Beshear said he believes the doses should have instead gone to the next long-term care facility.

"Do I believe it came from a good place? Yes, because they didn't want any of it to go to waste. But should it have been done differently? Yes. Are there procedures in place that should've been followed that would've done it differently? Yes."

Gov. Beshear said he would work with companies to ensure the most at-risk Kentuckians were contacted should this happen again.

"Some of these situations are going to happen," he said. "We're going to try to minimize them as much as possible."