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Vaccinations and Medical Waste: The Facts You Need to Know

In a normal year, 16 billion injections are administered around the world. That makes up for a lot of medical waste. Unfortunately, not all of the used syringes and needles end up in proper medical waste disposal facilities.
Imagine the increase in medical waste following over a year of COVID testing and vaccines. If you know how to dispose of medical waste, but find yourself overwhelmed following the roll-out of the COVID vaccine, you’re not alone.
Vaccinations and medical waste are nothing new to medical facilities, but this past year we’ve all faced many ups and downs. Many non-urgent procedures did not happen or were postponed but now things are ramping up again and millions of people are getting the vaccine.
Stick with us and we’ll lead you through information on the dramatic increase in medical waste due to COVID-19 and what is being done to take care of it properly.

Vaccine Packaging 
The packaging that the vaccine arrives in at your facility goes into regular medical waste. Some manufacturers have specific rules, however. The box that holds the vial trays and related packaging materials from the Pfizer vaccine needs to be returned to Pfizer to help them with their commitment to reusable resources.
Healthcare providers and waste management companies need to follow these protocols to remain compliant and should check with the manufacturers for additional instructions.

Syringes and Empty Vials 
Used syringes go into a disposable or reusable sharps container and get disposed of as regulated medical waste. They are either picked up or need to be mailed to a medical waste facility.
The Department of Defense recommends that you put empty vials in sharps containers also to help “mitigate potential diversion and illicit intent.” At this point, treat them as regulated medical waste just like the syringes.

Full or Partial Vials 
If you have full vials that have been compromised and cannot be administered or residual doses (partial vials), they need to be managed as regulated medical waste or non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste.

Additional Medical Waste
Besides the needles and the vials, additional medical waste includes gauze, gloves, cotton balls, bandages, masks, and other personal protective equipment.
These items don’t belong in a sharps container and can usually be disposed of as regular trash. In cases where they contain potentially infectious materials, they go in regulated medical waste containers.

Vaccinations and Medical Waste 
With the increase in COVID vaccinations and medical waste, make sure that you’re staying in compliance and properly disposing of vaccine-related waste to keep your healthcare workers safe.
We at MedSharps can offer you a comprehensive solution for the removal, treatment, and disposal of medical waste and biohazard waste. At MedSharps, we have licensed and certified employees that are trained to provide safe, sanitary, and efficient medical waste removal and disposal.
We also offer HIPPA compliant paper document shredding and e-waste destruction services. Contact us today.