Millions of COVID 19 vaccine doses wasted in Ontario, finds Auditor General

38 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine doses were wasted between February and June because Ontario overestimated demand for boosters, said the province’s auditor.

The auditor general released a report on Wednesday that also found the government ran a disorganized booking system and doesn’t fully track adult vaccinations.

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk revealed that overall COVID-19 vaccine wastage is nine per cent, or 3.4 million doses. About half of that could have been avoided with better forecasting of demand and the province’s COVID-19 vaccine communication strategy was not always effective.

“It was disorganized, inconsistent and lacking detail about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, suggesting that Ontarians may not have been as well informed as possible in their decision-making,” Lysyk wrote.

“The Ministry did not always provide clear information on whether to get additional vaccine doses and did not effectively combat misinformation about the vaccine. Health experts informed us that they believed the government’s communication approach sometimes undermined public confidence in vaccination,” she added.

Wastage rates varied quite a bit between public health units, and one private company wasted 57 per cent of its supply between May 2021 and May 2022, but the province hasn’t determined the causes, Lysyk said.

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She also identified problems with the system for booking vaccination appointments, as the province created its own portal but about half of the public health units are using their own, while some hospitals, pharmacies and private companies are using their own methods as well.

“Multiple booking systems also encouraged Ontarians to ‘vaccine shop’ by registering for multiple appointments to try to get either the quickest appointment or a specific vaccine brand,” Lysyk wrote in the report.

“The continued absence of a centralized booking system (as of August 2022) increases the likelihood of unnecessary wastage continuing into the future since such no-show appointments can result in more wasted doses of vaccine.”

Multiple bookings led to about 227,000 no-shows in 2021 in the provincial booking system alone, the auditor found, which likely contributed to vaccine wastage.

The lack of a centralized booking system also led to inconsistent controls and checks to ensure that when bookings were opened up to particular groups, such as health-care workers or immunocompromised people, only those eligible were actually making appointments, Lysyk found.

Family doctors were underutilized in the vaccine rollout, Lysyk found, noting that the compensation structure provided a disincentive for them to administer shots in their own offices.

Parvasi Media Group

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