Properly Disposing of COVID-19 Medical Waste. Properly disposing of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine remnants and waste is important. Some disposal protocols may vary from state to state. Bio-MED Medical Waste Transporters in collaboration with the Healthcare Waste Institute developed general guidance below for disposing of COVID vaccine waste. In general, the vaccine-related waste follows similar processes as other vaccines.
Always comply with local/state laws, CDC guidance, and the vaccine manufacturer’s guide for disposing of vaccine waste. It’s also important to follow the established medical waste acceptance and packaging guidelines. Check out our COVID & Other Resource section for more information and tools.
All of these items should be placed in FDA-approved sharps containers. They are rigid, puncture-proof plastic red containers that help prevent injury and the spread of infectious waste or potentially hazardous materials. Needles and other loose sharps should never be placed in the trash or directly into the biohazardous box or container.
It’s important to note that the Covid vaccines are not hazardous and don’t contain any viral material. For any leftover vaccine doses that have or have not been compromised, these can be disposed of following standard state regulation non-hazardous pharmaceutical requirements.
For any facility administering the Pfizer vaccine, vial trays the vaccine is stored on should be disposed of in biohazardous waste receptacles lined with red bags. Review local/state laws, protocols, and disposal policies before doing so.
Contaminated PPE (personal protective equipment) such as mask, gloves, and gowns should be disposed of in biohazard containers lined with red bags. By properly disposing of these contaminated items, it helps prevent the potential spread of highly contagious viruses.
Non-contaminated PPE items can be disposed of in the regular trash. Other non-contaminated waste such as cotton balls and alcohol wipes, for example, can also go into regular trash receptacles, unless there are specific instructions noted by the vaccine manufacturer otherwise.
Cardboard packaging included with the Covid vaccines that aren’t required to return to the manufacturer can be recycled.
The SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine is packaged in a “cold box” which is equipped with tracking devices. These need to be returned to the manufacturer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on returning any shipping or tracking materials.
Dry ice that isn’t needed should be left in an open, well-ventilated area to sublimate. Do not place dry ice into an alternative container. It should always be kept in its original container.
For over 25 years, Bio-MED Medical Waste Transporters has partnered with many healthcare facilities handling vaccines. We know the importance of managing vaccine waste and help take the guess work out of the disposal process following all local, state, and federal compliance requirements.
As a member of the Healthcare Waste Institute, we partnered with the industry’s top officials to provide this general guidance for disposing of COVID vaccine waste. Contact us today for more information or to get started with pick up service.
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