SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines are being administered all of the country at different types of facilities, such as hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, mass-vaccination sites, and more. To help streamline vaccine waste disposal procedures, we've partnered with the industry's top officials to provide general guidance for disposing of Covid vaccine remnants and waste. In short, vaccine-related waste follows similar handling and disposal processes as other vaccines.
It is important to note, you should always consult and comply with local/state laws, CDC guidance, and vaccine manufacturer's disposal guides for vaccines. Always follow established acceptance and packaging guidelines outlined by local, state, and federal agencies as it relates to medical and vaccine waste. Check out our Covid-19 Resource page for more trusted information and tools
Syringes, Needles, and Empty Vaccine Vials
Items such us syringes, needles, and empty vaccine vials should be disposed of in an FDA-approved sharps container. Sharps containers are red, rigid, puncture-proof containers used for sharp object disposal and help prevent injury and the potential spread of infectious or hazardous materials. You should never place loose sharp items directly into the trash or biohazardous waste container. Always place them in an FDA-approved container before placing them in the biohazardous waste container for final disposal.
Remaining Doses of Vaccine
Covid-19 vaccines are not hazardous. They don't contain any viral material. If you have any leftover Covid-19 vaccine doses, whether they are compromised or not, follow standard state regulated non-hazardous pharmaceutical disposal requirements.
If your facility is administering the Pfizer vaccine, the vial trays which store the vaccines should be disposed of in biohazardous waste containers with red liners/bags. Consult local/state laws, protocols, and disposal policies before disposing of the vial trays.
PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks, gloves, and gowns for example that are contaminated should be placed in the biohazardous/infectious waste regulated container lined with a red bag for disposal. This ensures everyone's safety and potentially helps stop the spread of this highly contagious disease.
For any used PPE that has not been contaminated, treat this as standard garbage and place it in a garbage receptacle. Items such as cotton balls, alcohol wipes, and bandages that aren't contaminated can be placed in a garbage receptacle as well. It is important to note you should always follow the vaccine manufacturer's guidelines for disposing of these items.
Sometimes the vaccine may come in cardboard packaging. If it is not required by the vaccine manufacturer to return the cardboard packaging, the best option for disposal would be to recycle it.
"Cold Box" Shipping and Tracking Materials
As you may experienced, the Covid-19 vaccines are packaged in a "cold box" which are equipped with tracking devices. These need to be returned to the manufacturer. The manufacturer provides guidance on how to return any items they require to be returned.
Any dry ice that may have come in the vaccine packaging that is not needed, should be left in an open, well-ventilated area to sublimate. It should not be placed into any alternative containers and always kept in it's original container.
Whether you're a pharmacy administering the Covid-19 vaccine in your community, or a mass-vaccination site throughout Idaho, Utah, and Oregon, our expert team at Larson-Miller can help you manage your vaccine waste disposal. We take pride in our compliance record and always adhere to all local, state, and federal regulations for disposing of and treating all medical waste, including vaccine waste. Contact us at (208) 323-7272 or (801) 738-6545 to learn more about us, how we can help, and a free quote.