Vaccinate Lancaster staff welcome patients to the community vaccination center at Park City Center on its first day of operations, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (Photo: Provided)
Vaccinate Lancaster staff welcome patients to the community vaccination center at Park City Center on its first day of operations, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (Photo: Provided)

Pennsylvanians should make every effort to keep their Covid-19 vaccine appointments, and individuals who registered with multiple providers should cancel any registrations they no longer need, the state Department of Health said Friday.

“Each time someone is a no-show for an appointment, it increases the chances of a dose of vaccine being wasted if the appointment cannot be refilled by someone else who has not yet been vaccinated," Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement.

The three Covid-19 vaccines approved to date must all be kept chilled and have limited shelf life at room temperature. Vaccine providers must prepare allotments for use each day, removing them from storage. When someone is a no-show, his or her dose often still has to be used that day.

Click for larger PDF version. (Source: American Hospital Association)

Previously, providers were able to use excess doses by calling people on waiting lists, but those lists have shrunk as vaccines become more available, and many providers have exhausted them, the department said.

So far, vaccine dose waste is "very low," the department said — less than 0.1%.

The department's announcement echoes one made two weeks ago by Vaccinate Lancaster, the coalition operating the community vaccination center at Park City Center.

At that time, more than 75,000 people had already registered, but a large number were not following through when invited to make a vaccination appointment, the coalition said.

The coalition is inviting individuals in all phases of Pennsylvania's rollout to register, and says it has thousands of appointments available in coming weeks.

Tim Stuhldreher