Thousands of vaccine doses at Pennsylvania Convention Center set to expire amid drop in demand

Emily Shapiro, ABC News

(PHILADEPHIA) — The Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia’s Center City has 4,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that are set to expire amid a major drop in demand, according to the city’s health department.

“These are doses [from the city’s allocation] that we’ve had for awhile now. There is a shelf life,” James Garrow, communications director for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, told ABC News Wednesday. “These vaccines have reached the end of their storage capability.”

Garrow said officials are hoping to use up the doses before they expire Thursday afternoon.

FEMA spokesperson Charlie Elison said workers at the convention center do not pull the vaccines out of freezers until they know the doses can be used.

This rush to use up expiring doses comes during a sharp drop in vaccine demand, Garrow said.

At one point the convention center was vaccinating 6,000 to 7,000 people per day, Garrow said. Elison said the site is now “vaccinating somewhere in the low hundreds each day.”

“We hit a point probably about a week-and-a-half to two weeks ago where demand just sort of fell of a cliff,” Garrow said.

“We figured we reached everybody who was very, very excited to go and get vaccinated,” Garrow said. Residents may also have had trouble accessing the Center City site, he said.

According to city data, 42.3% of Philadelphians ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, while 27.5% of Philadelphians 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

For those still planning to go to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for their shot, Garrow promised that people can get in and out in 30 minutes, stressing that the site does not require a registration or ID. The convention center is also offering free public transit passes to get residents back home “to try to make this as simple and seamless as possible,” he said.

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