Smartphone App For Leftover Vaccinations

South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency launched a pilot program yesterday to minimize vaccination waste using a nationwide smartphone app. People who are over 30 years of age can search for leftover doses on their smartphones. If any are available, they can book an appointment immediately within the app, and then get to the medical center within hours to receive the injection. One can tag up to five nearby inoculation centers to receive an instant message when a dose becomes available.

These leftover doses arise from people who have missed their appointment, but also just as you would expect when considering the short shelf life of the opened vaccine, the number of doses per vial, and modulo arithmetic. Within hours of the program rolling out, people began complaining about server problems and the lack of available doses. But this is a pilot program, after all, so some glitches are to be expected.

The full program is supposed to begin on June 9th, although it isn’t clear how it will be different from the pilot project, other than presumably having fewer bugs. The lead picture above shows the availability of leftover vaccines in central Seoul this morning — zero (the symbol 없음 means “none”). But the system does indeed work and people received vaccinations yesterday utilizing this program.

Technically speaking, this isn’t a new app, but rather, it is integrated into the two most popular South Korean portal sites. Anyone already using KakaoTalk or the Naver portal on their smartphone can use this leftover vaccination service with just the press of a few icons. Are the health authorities in your region utilizing smartphone apps or online reservations sites to distribute these leftover doses, doses that would otherwise be discarded? Let us know in the comments below.

29 thoughts on “Smartphone App For Leftover Vaccinations

  1. The Australian federal government has cleverly avoided the issue of wasted doses by being a bit slow to deliver sufficient quantities of vaccine to date in their rollout.

    They have been able to get away with this slow rollout in the absence of significant community spread, apart from occasional quarantine outbreaks arising from airborne spread in poorly ventilated facilities.

    The cases of airborne spread have been observable in New Zealand and Australia due to the absence of confounding cases of community spread.

    1. I respectfully disagree – the slow rollout in Australia has not avoided the issue of wastage. A friend of mine runs a medical clinic in Australia and says they have had major problems with wastage because of last minute cancellations, people not showing up and the modulo problem. A reliable app would really help here too.

      1. The Astra Zeneca jab stores at conventional vaccine fridge temperatures for quite some time, i.e. months, whereas the Pfizer mRNA jab is decanted in vials containing 5 jabs, which need to be used within a few hours in the big vaccination centres. The remaining batch of 190 or so thawed Pfizer vials have a much shorter shelf life of 5 days at vaccine fridge temperatures. An app would potentially be of most use for the mRNA jab, but centres are few, and demand mostly exceeds supply.

        Perhaps we could get the people that did the Covidsafe App to do it!

      2. I only recently acquired a tablet (Samsung Galaxy Active3) capable of running the latest COVID-19 tracing applications… my experience on Sunday running it for the first time was 100% charge at 05:00 when I left home… by 09:00 the battery was down to about 15% and I had to shut it down.

        This is a brand new device that was pulled out of its box Friday morning, unlike my phone, which was purchased about 6 years ago now… and whilst too old to run the COVID-19 stuff, still functions as a Wi-Fi hot-spot for the tablet, and still seems to regularly outperform contemporary devices in battery life and cell tower reception.

        Given this track record… chances are my battery would be flat before I could receive the notification.

        I’d get the vaccination today if I were eligible, but it seems the government thinks it’s perfectly okay for someone in their late 30s to be put at risk of catching and unwittingly spreading the disease.

  2. Japan is embarrassingly and frustratingly bad at technology. They can’t even figure out how to organize the vaccication effort on pencil and paper, let alone apps. Ever seen a Japanese website? They’re garbage. Nothing has any organization and nothing is designed to use their writing system’s characteristics to add to the look of a page, they simply try to push as much raw information at you as possible. The only exceptions I know of are American companies with Japanese websites.

    1. Your comment has left me a bit confused. The article talks about the programme being launched in S. Korea, and I am unable to find any reference to Japan in either this post, or the articles that are being linked to.

      Do you mind maybe expanding on your point about Japan, and how it fits into the rest of this particular post?

      1. From the article:

        Are the health authorities in your region utilizing smartphone apps or online reservations sites to distribute these leftover doses, doses that would otherwise be discarded? Let us know in the comments below.

  3. Hah, the authorities in the country of my residence are (apparently) struggling immensely to procure enough doses to serve the demand. I have no idea whatsoever when I will receive my first dose, hopefully this year maybe? Welcome to Denmark, heh

    1. It’s really not that different to the cowpox virus used by Jenner to vaccinate people against smallpox. It used the cell’s machinery to produce antigens that the immune system could respond to, enabling subsequent exposure to the more deadly virus to be dealt with expeditiously by the body’s immune system.

      Except in the case of the mRNA vaccine, only the code for the antigen is included, avoiding the downsides of a viral vector that can reproduce in its own right, and cause distinct disease in it’s own right.

    2. I read that the vaccine is 95% effective (more or less, depending on the vaccine), and I know that breakthrough infections sometimes occur because 95% is not 100%. So far so good…

      Then I noticed a news report about a baseball player who got Covid after getting vaccinated, and he gave it to his entire team (that had also been vaccinated), and I thought “statistics doesn’t work that way”.

      I mentioned this to a friend of mine who works at a hospital and who’s in touch with very current medical professionals, and he told me that the vaccination doesn’t prevent you from getting sick, it prevents you from dying when you *do* get sick.

      So now I’m wondering what that “95% protection” figure actually means, and what the word “vaccination” actually means, and what the vaccinations are actually doing. Also, how does statistics actually work if you can’t use it to extrapolate from probability to risk?

      My best guess ATM is that Covid is a complete political mess and I can’t decide *any* proper course of action from the situation and that everything about it should be avoided. There’s simply no way to tell what’s going on.

      1. This is the CDC’s link regarding vaccination effectiveness.

        Kindly read the words in the grey box.

        “Identifying and investigating hospitalized or fatal vaccine breakthrough cases
        As of May 1, 2021, CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance.

        Previous data on all vaccine breakthrough cases reported to CDC from January–April 2021 are available.”

        So as of May 1st, if you are vaccinated, and test positive you will not be considered a “Breakthrough case” unless you are hospitalized or die.

        This tells me this pandemic is effectively over as asymptomatic cases after May 1st will not be counted. Effectiveness is then guaranteed.

      2. Read up on the difference between relative risk vs. absolute risk. The vaccine trials all report relative risk which can be seriously misleading, for example if 200 people in a control group of 3000 get infected, but 10 in 3000 of the vaccinated group get infected, it’s reported as being 95% effective [ (1 – 10/200)*100 ] instead of a 6.33% reduced chance of being infected [ (200/3000 – 10/3000)*100 ].

        Your guess is probably correct, do some digging through reported statistics and come to your own conclusion. The TV news is a complete cesspool of fearmongering and hysteria.

        1. The trial needs to be run long enough to discern a statistically significant risk reduction, so relative risk is the appropriate measure to rely on.

          Absolute risk reduction only makes sense if it is lifelong risk, or risk over the whole duration of a given epidemic.

          If prevalence is higher than in the study group, i.e. over 30% in a nursing home, then the absolute risk reduction is meaningless, but the relative risk reduction is meaningful.

          Put another way, absolute risk reduction changes as the prevalence in the population changes. Pick up an epidemiology textbook, and “do your own research”.

      3. Here are some good summaries about the difference between sterilising immunity vs protection from symptomatic infection.

        there are plenty of other reputable sources of public health information too.

        Unfortunately, there have been concerted campaigns by state based actors seeking to sow doubt about the public health response and benefits of vaccination, particularly on social media.

  4. So, if the vaccines expire so quickly, do those that get the last few get a less effective dose? Are the first ones over vaccinated?
    Simple logic and common sense.

    1. Recent data has shown that the mRNA vaccines have a stable shelf life at normal vaccine fridge storage conditions for longer than originally assumed, but the initial guidance wrt storage was very conservative to ensure cold chain breaches did not occur.

      It is no different to putting an expiry date on a box of acetominophen / paracetamol… you want to be confident it still has therapeutic efficacy when it is used.

      1. Ah, but I wasn’t talking about cold storage. I’m talking about once they are out.
        Of course, if you are a respected doctor trying not to waste any doses then you can expect to be arrested if you do NOT waste them but give them to someone NOT

  5. knowing that there would be unused vaccines was how i managed to get my shots back in february despite being < 40 and not an essential worker. the bureaucrats who make the policy never consider the practicalities of a vaccine rollout. that there are cancelations, people die, people listen to facebook propaganda and chicken out, etc. given the perishable nature of the vaccines, any wastage would result in severe political backlash for the powers that be. the only logical solution was to give the surplus to anyone on their lists near the end of the day, people outside the guideline requirements (at the time it was seniors only). not very many people knew this would happen. but it turns out that if you were further down on the on the list and in the vicinity of the clinic, you could just hop over a whole lot of heads. its a lot easier to arrange a shot with someone who is present than to call someone in. it also helps if you can jump the usual line. since i was escorting my mom to the clinic to get her shot, i happened to end up near the gal with the clipboard. 5 minutes later i was vaccinated.

  6. What leftover dose? I live in Turkey, and we keep hearing about hundreds of millions of doses on the way, but vaccinations haven’t reached the 50 year old age group yet.

    1. Vaccination order is the following : first world, developing countries, third world. Sadly if a country doesn’t have money, extensive ressources, or political power, it’s destined to wait.

  7. It’s a great idea if you have surplus on vaccines available. At this time Taiwan government is still blocking all vaccines from domestic entities donation enter the country.

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