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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Representatives of two Walgreens locations in Kentucky said their employees gave out COVID-19 vaccines to people who weren't supposed to get them yet.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he learned that one Walgreens location in Louisville and another in Lexington gave doses of the vaccine on Christmas Eve to some people who were not included in the state's initial phase of vaccine distribution.

Walgreens said once thawed, the vaccine can only be used for up to five days, so they made the extras available to the general public so that none would go to waste.

Walgreens said the shots were given to employees, first responders and community members, many of whom were over the age of 65.

Beshear said this shouldn't have happened and that the shots should have been taken to a long-term care facility instead.

Walgreens issued a statement shortly after the story came to light:

COVID-19 vaccines are not available to the general public at this time. We continue to work with long-term care facilities to meet their vaccination needs as part of the CDC's Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program. When scheduling clinics, facilities are responsible for determining the number of individuals and vaccine doses necessary. In the initial days of providing vaccinations to long-term care facilities in Kentucky, we experienced an isolated situation in which the amount of vaccine doses requested by facilities exceeded the actual need due to a variety of factors.

Per CDC guidance, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can be at refrigerated temperatures for only five days. We are committed to eliminating scenarios where vaccine expires due to shelf life while at the same time focusing our efforts on immunizing eligible patient populations in each roll-out phase. Remaining doses from the scheduled clinics in Kentucky were immediately reallocated and used in facilities with clinics on Christmas Eve that were originally scheduled to occur at a later date. Additional excess doses were then offered to local first responders, Walgreens pharmacy and store team members and residents of the community, many of whom were over age 65. These measures were taken to ensure every dose of a limited vaccine supply was used to protect patients and communities.

We will utilize excess vaccine inventory in priority patient populations and continue to work closely with state and federal health agencies in our efforts to vaccinate residents in long-term care facilities and ensure requested doses meet their needs.

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