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Pfizer is preparing distribution with the federal government for a smaller 3-tray, 25-vial pack size for COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: by Patrick Pleul-picture alliance/Getty Images

Pfizer will begin distributing smaller packages of COVID-19 vaccine to states by the end of May to reduce potential waste.

Why it matters: As public demand for vaccine teeters, health officials see smaller clinical settings as the next step in vaccinating Americans who haven’t sought out a shot already.

  • The company's smaller packaging can help improve distribution, Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer's vice president for global supply chain, tells Axios.

How it works: Pfizer is preparing to distribute packages of 450 doses, alongside its current packages of 1,170 doses. Roughly 4.5 million doses per week will come in the smaller packages.

  • The company also expects to have a "ready-to-use" vaccine that won't require dilution and can be stored -20ºC by the end of 2021.

The big picture: Though the extent of vaccine waste due to lack of demand is unknown, state health officials have raised concerns with the federal government, said Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • "Having a smaller minimum order quantity of course means that you’re going to have less wastage especially in those rural areas," she said.

The smaller packages can also help make vaccines available at physician offices, religious congregations or recreation centers, where people can make on-the-spot decisions to get vaccinated, said Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

  • "It’s difficult to do that when products are shipped in 10-dose vials or even sometimes five-dose vials where you puncture the rubber stopper, the pharmaceutical inside expires within a period of six to 12 hours if it’s not fully used," Stack said.

Go deeper

WH: Getting vaccinated "most important" step in hurricane preparedness

President Biden speaking at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The "most important" step Americans should take to prepare for peak hurricane season is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in case they have to evacuate, the White House said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The statement followed President Biden's meeting on hurricane preparedness with senior FEMA officials and others, who advised him of the measure — hours before Tropical Storm Fred formed near Puerto Rico. Florida is in the path of the storm, which could possibly intensify into a hurricane.

Updated Aug 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

New COVID restrictions could slow air travel

Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Leisure air travel is booming, but with COVID-19 cases soaring in the U.S., the airline industry can expect a slowdown after Labor Day — and that might actually be a good thing.

Why it matters: Airlines have struggled to keep up with the unexpectedly strong rebound in travel demand this summer, with Spirit Airlines' chaotic, cancellation-filled episode last week as the most extreme example.

Florida and Texas schools defy governors' orders banning mask mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during an event in Surfside, Florida, on Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Broward County School Board has become the latest in Florida to defy the state's mask mandate ban, voting on Tuesday to keep the requirement for students and staff.

Why it matters: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold the pay of superintendents and school board members who defy his executive order barring schools from issuing mask mandates, as Florida experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.