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A nurse reaches for a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccine clinic in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has discarded at least 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since March 1, according to government data obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The data comes as the Delta variant spreads rapidly across the country, and after the Biden administration announced plans to roll out booster shots — renewing the need for an ample vaccine supply.

  • Globally, some nations have struggled to vaccinate large majorities of their residents — in many cases due to limited vaccine supply.

Driving the news: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by NBC reveals that four national pharmacies — Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid — have wasted more than 1 million doses each.

  • Walgreens reportedly discarded 2.6 million doses, CVS reported 2.3 million discarded, Walmart reported 1.6 million and Rite Aid reported 1.1 million, per NBC.
  • Health departments in four states — Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma — each reported more than 200,000 wasted doses, NBC reported.
  • Reasons for discarding doses include cracked vials, errors diluting the vaccine and freezer malfunctions, among other things.

The big picture: The data on wasted doses — still a small fraction of the overall doses distributed in the U.S. — is based on self-reporting from pharmacies, states and other providers, meaning more doses may have been wasted than reported.

Go deeper: CVS and Walgreens have wasted over 128,000 COVID doses

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

Illinois mandates daycare workers to receive COVID vaccine or weekly testing

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students in October 2018. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Friday that all daycare workers in the state will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or or submit to weekly testing.

Driving the news: Pritzker said he was issuing the requirement to protect "babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine."

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

CDC director: U.S. may change definition of "fully vaccinated" as boosters roll out

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the U.S. "may need to update" its definition for what it means to have full vaccination against COVID.

The big picture: The CDC and the FDA have officially approved boosters with every authorized vaccine in the U.S. for people who meet specific requirements. Walensky explained that since not everyone is eligible for a booster, the definition has not been changed "yet."

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.