Pharmacies say they're finding ways to deal with no-shows and leftover vaccine doses.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Leftover vaccine doses and no-show appointments are two side effects of the coronavirus vaccine as people scramble to secure a spot.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to local pharmacists who said it took some time, but they’re now finding ways around the roadblocks.

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The refrigerator sits ready, with syringes nearby, as pharmacist Jacki Bertola works to vaccinate her South Hills community.

“And our clinics are also smaller so we’re doing closer to a few hundred, 500 at a time, we’re not doing thousands and thousands of vaccines at a time,” said Bertola.

She just posted a notification on Facebook to inform the community about a clinic in West Mifflin this Saturday.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked: “Are you hearing of places having a bunch of leftovers? Or have you ever had any leftovers?”

“When we do, we chase people down and if that means coming back to our pharmacy and calling people at 9 o’clock at night, stopping at their house on the way home, we’re doing whatever it is so that we are not throwing those doses away,” said Bertola.

She’s one of several ma and pop pharmacies around Pittsburgh still receiving shipments from the state.

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“People are pretty much showing up. I would say we have less than 5 percent no-show rate,” said Bertola.

She tells KDKA she’s only noticed no-shows for second dose appointments.

“Especially at that time we were pushing our 28-day folks back into 42-day windows, we were seeing that some of them were getting a little anxious and seeking out that second shot as soon as possible.”

At the Pleasant Hills Apothecary, pharmacist Luke Taylor said when it comes to preventing leftover vaccine doses, it’s all in the draw.

“What we’ll do is at the beginning of the day, if we’re expecting to have 800 doses, we might draw up 200 shots just to get us started,” said Taylor. “And then we’ll fill more shots and draw more shots as the day goes on.”

Taylor said they’re using email registration and sending the invites for the clinics closer to the date of the actual event.

“So far, it’s just been more legwork where we send out emails, give those people a couple days to respond, and send out more emails to fill the rest of the clinic,” said Taylor.

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As for the city’s healthcare giants, UPMC and AHN, both say they strive to not waste a single dose. AHN said it deals with no shows from time to time but does not describe it as a major issue. As patients arrive, AHN will mix and open the vaccine vials that are needed. UPMC said it works to “get every last drop” to the patients.

Meghan Schiller