'Clock ticking' on thousands of Moderna doses at risk of expiring in Waterloo Region

Thousands of Moderna doses in Waterloo Region are at risk of going bad, according to a vaccine expert at the University of Waterloo.

Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist and professor at the university, says demand for the Moderna vaccine has dropped.

Once it's out of the freezer, the Moderna vaccine is good for thirty days in a refrigerator before expiring.

"Now there's this clock ticking on it," Grindrod said.

She said pharmacies in the region, and across Ontario and Canada, will see doses expire and have to be thrown out.

Grindrod said pharmacists in the area are seeing several people cancel or walk away from their appointments.

Pharmacist Neil Malhotra at Apothecare Pharmacy in Kitchener says he's seen a decline in demand of about 75 per cent.

Two weeks ago, he says he was administering about 100 Moderna doses each weekend, but that's now dropped.

"Now we're doing more anywhere from one to two vials, 14 to 28 doses on a weekend. It's dropped down quite a bit," Malhotra said. "We have noticed people cancel appointments because we have Moderna and not Pfizer."

Recent stories about other countries not acknowledging mixed doses as fully vaccinated are having an impact, according to Grindrod.

"It seems as soon as something like that hits the headlines, demand just drops," she explained.

Grindrod, who works on the front lines at clinics, says there's been a plateau in first and second doses.

"We're really struggling with a bit of apathy where people don't necessarily see the benefit or know the benefit, which is showing us they themselves don't think they're at risk, they underestimate the risk of COVID," she said.

Grindrod stressed Moderna is just as effective as Pfizer.

Malhotra agrees and has been able to tell this to some of his customers with success, but not all of them have listened.

"As a result, there is a risk of our vaccines expiring with not being administered," he said.