At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, we all know the value in a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It’s liquid gold," said Karen Superchi, VP of patient care at Littleton Regional Hospital in Littleton, New Hampshire.
There have been stories of mad dashes to vaccination sites late in the evenings, with people trying to get one of the leftover doses at the end of the day -- it happened not long ago in Danvers, Massachusetts -- so to avoid that kind of chaos, several hospitals in New Hampshire have come up with a daily strategy.
Between no-shows, and plus ones – it’s not easy for any vaccine site to perfectly match the number of doses pulled in the morning, to the exact number of patients who will arrive by the end of the day – leaving leftover doses that will go bad if not administered right away.
"To date we have not wasted a single dose," Superchi said.
Early on in the vaccine rollout, a scheduling glitch with the federal website forced 1,600 canceled appointments at Littleton Regional – so now, Superchi turns to that cancellation list to offer up any extra doses.
"It’s the highlight of each day to call someone and say, 'hey, we have a dose. Would you be able to come and get it?'" she said.
It’s a similar story at Memorial Hospital in North Conway. To use up any leftover doses, Will Owen and his team use the VAMS database and call people who have appointments booked, say, a month from now.
"On these days when you call someone it’s pretty cool," he said. "And their response is usually silence and then, 'Are you serious? Like right now? I can some right now?' And I say, 'Yeah you can come right now.'"
Memorial Hospital is making it clear there’s no cancellation list to join – they’re offering leftover doses to people already booked in the VAMS system.
But for frontline workers like Owen and Superchi, the appreciation on the other line makes the hardships of the last year a little easier.
"The patients act like you have just handed them a winning lottery ticket," Superchi said. "Just the gratitude from the community has been wonderful."
"It's actually one of the more rewarding things I’ve done in medicine," Owen said.