Oklahoma may throw out thousands of COVID-19 vaccines as demand drops

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(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) -- Oklahoma may be forced to throw out tens of thousands of vaccines set to expire in coming weeks, according to the state health department.

"We have pulled expired vaccine from active inventory and are in the process of following CDC guidance on proper disposal," Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told ABC News. In addition to a few thousand vaccines that have already gone to waste, there are approximately 80,000 Johnson & Johnson doses set to expire by the end of June, though that number may be adjusted downward after the state evaluates its inventory, according to Reed.

Those expiring doses come as vaccinations are slowing from approximately 8,000 shots per day to 4,500 per day, according to the state health department.

"We are seeing kind of a steady decline, and it's a bit concerning," Reed told ABC News Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO.

"We are not reaching the goals we would like to be reaching to ensure that we are positioned well to go on into the summer and into the fall."

In Oklahoma, 42% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 34% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those numbers fall short of the national average. As of Monday, 51% of Americans have received one dose of the vaccine and 42% were fully vaccinated, the CDC reported.

The state's low numbers have dampened Reed's hope of reaching President Joe Biden's goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4.

"I have to be honest with you that, at this point, I do not see us getting close to that by July 4," Reed said. "Not to say we're not going to continue to work hard and diligently to increase our numbers."

Other states, including Arkansas and Ohio, face similar supply and demand predicaments. In Arkansas, 70,000 Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson doses are set to expire in June, the health department told ABC News. In Ohio, 200,000 doses will expire June 23, according to the governor.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty and Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 6:58PM by Erin Schumaker, ABC News Permalink