Thousands of Americans are doing what’s been coined “vaccine chasing,” when they call around and sometimes wait in pharmacy parking lots, for a chance to get a leftover vaccine. In Milwaukee, Hayat Pharmacy allowed sister station WISN to document their process of what happens at the end of the day to leftover vaccines. “The (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) does require us to do that to make sure everyone in that eligibility criteria gets taken care of, but they also don’t want anything wasted. So they’d rather put it in an arm, than not put it in at all, but we have to make sure that we do a really good job of trying to find people who are in that eligibility criteria,” said Sarah Westling, a manager at Hayat Pharmacy. Westing said the Moderna vaccine expires 12 hours after being “mixed” and each vial contains about 10 doses of the vaccine. Employees at Hayat said they prepare vaccine vials based on how many people are at the walk-in vaccination clinic.The process means at the end of the day, Hayat will have fewer than nine leftover vaccines, if any at all. In an email to vaccinators last week, Wisconsin health officials strongly encouraged them to, “establish protocols to identify individuals who are currently eligible, before administering vaccines,” to those who aren’t. Westling said they have a list of customers who are eligible for the vaccine and at the end of the day, they start making calls. If that doesn’t work, they try other avenues. “We’ll even call local nursing facilities, congregations, mosques, temples, churches,” Westing said. Once they’ve exhausted their avenues, if there are people outside or nearby waiting, employees will allow them to get a leftover shot. “I’d say we get maybe a handful of walk-ins every day, but the phones are off the hook,” Westling said. On Tuesday, the final Moderna vial at Hayat had six doses leftover. After employees made their required calls, three of the six people who came in were eligible. The other three were in the right place at the right time. Suha Germen was one of the vaccine chasers who got lucky on Tuesday. “I will be 45 in June, but I am traveling a lot back and forth to my country,” Germen said.He said his family lives in Turkey and Tuesday was his first time trying to get a leftover vaccine. “If I have the opportunity here, I would like to take the opportunity,” Germen said.When he learned he was going to get a vaccine, Germen called it his lucky day. “I think I did the right thing. They had extra ones that they were going to throw away, so at least some people get benefits out of it,” Germen said. Margaret Panter, a 30-year-old with elderly parents, was another vaccine chaser on Tuesday who got a leftover shot. “I’ve been trying over the phone, calling local Walgreens, asking if they had any expiration waitlists for the end of the day,” Panter said. “I had called three of them today and I called two other local pharmacies yesterday and was told they weren’t taking a waitlist.”When Panter learned she would be getting a leftover dose, she and her partner quietly cheered in the hallway together. “I’m super excited, yes. I’ve got older parents and my partner is a teacher as well, so it will be nice to join the club,” Panter said. “If the opportunity is there, I say why not? I think it’s great the people who are priority are eligible, but if this is an option that we are able to exercise, I say I’m all for it.”Hayat Pharmacy employees said they tell people they can try to wait outside at the end of the day, but stress that the likelihood of actually getting a leftover vaccine remains small.The majority of the time, enough eligible people show up at the end of the day and there are no vaccines left for vaccine chasers. It is a matter of timing, research and a lot of luck if an ineligible person gets a leftover shot.

Thousands of Americans are doing what’s been coined “vaccine chasing,” when they call around and sometimes wait in pharmacy parking lots, for a chance to get a leftover vaccine.

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In Milwaukee, Hayat Pharmacy allowed sister station WISN to document their process of what happens at the end of the day to leftover vaccines.

“The (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) does require us to do that to make sure everyone in that eligibility criteria gets taken care of, but they also don’t want anything wasted. So they’d rather put it in an arm, than not put it in at all, but we have to make sure that we do a really good job of trying to find people who are in that eligibility criteria,” said Sarah Westling, a manager at Hayat Pharmacy.

Westing said the Moderna vaccine expires 12 hours after being “mixed” and each vial contains about 10 doses of the vaccine.

Employees at Hayat said they prepare vaccine vials based on how many people are at the walk-in vaccination clinic.

The process means at the end of the day, Hayat will have fewer than nine leftover vaccines, if any at all.

In an email to vaccinators last week, Wisconsin health officials strongly encouraged them to, “establish protocols to identify individuals who are currently eligible, before administering vaccines,” to those who aren’t.

Westling said they have a list of customers who are eligible for the vaccine and at the end of the day, they start making calls.

If that doesn’t work, they try other avenues.

“We’ll even call local nursing facilities, congregations, mosques, temples, churches,” Westing said.

Once they’ve exhausted their avenues, if there are people outside or nearby waiting, employees will allow them to get a leftover shot.

“I’d say we get maybe a handful of walk-ins every day, but the phones are off the hook,” Westling said.

On Tuesday, the final Moderna vial at Hayat had six doses leftover.

After employees made their required calls, three of the six people who came in were eligible.

The other three were in the right place at the right time.

Suha Germen was one of the vaccine chasers who got lucky on Tuesday.

“I will be 45 in June, but I am traveling a lot back and forth to my country,” Germen said.

He said his family lives in Turkey and Tuesday was his first time trying to get a leftover vaccine.

“If I have the opportunity here, I would like to take the opportunity,” Germen said.

When he learned he was going to get a vaccine, Germen called it his lucky day.

“I think I did the right thing. They had extra ones that they were going to throw away, so at least some people get benefits out of it,” Germen said.

Margaret Panter, a 30-year-old with elderly parents, was another vaccine chaser on Tuesday who got a leftover shot.

“I’ve been trying over the phone, calling local Walgreens, asking if they had any expiration waitlists for the end of the day,” Panter said. “I had called three of them today and I called two other local pharmacies yesterday and was told they weren’t taking a waitlist.”

When Panter learned she would be getting a leftover dose, she and her partner quietly cheered in the hallway together.

“I’m super excited, yes. I’ve got older parents and my partner is a teacher as well, so it will be nice to join the club,” Panter said. “If the opportunity is there, I say why not? I think it’s great the people who are priority are eligible, but if this is an option that we are able to exercise, I say I’m all for it.”

Hayat Pharmacy employees said they tell people they can try to wait outside at the end of the day, but stress that the likelihood of actually getting a leftover vaccine remains small.

The majority of the time, enough eligible people show up at the end of the day and there are no vaccines left for vaccine chasers.

It is a matter of timing, research and a lot of luck if an ineligible person gets a leftover shot.

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