Now, health officials across the country who expected their extremely limited supply of vaccines to double at the start of next week are faced with the fact that their allocations will remain largely stable, dashing hopes of greatly expanding access to millions of elderly and people with special needs. The risk of medical conditions. In recent days, health officials in some cities and states have informed the reality of the situation, while others are still unknown.
Because both vaccines are authorized For emergency use in the United States is two two-dose regimens, the Trump administration’s primary policy has been to hold back the second doses to protect against the potential for manufacturing disruptions. But this approach has changed in recent weeks, according to officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
These officials were told that Operation Warp Speed, which oversees vaccine distribution, stopped stocking second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of last year. Meanwhile, the last shots kept in Moderna supply reserves began shipping over the weekend.
The transformation, either way, has had to do with increasing confidence in the supply chain, even the leaders of the Warp Speed operation Feeling they Can reliably expect dosing availability for booster dosing – required after three weeks in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech product and after four weeks under the Moderna protocol.
But it also meant that there was no stock of second doses waiting to be shipped, like Trump administration officials I suggested this week. “Because we now have a steady pace of production, we can now ship all the doses that were kept in the physical reserve,” Azar said at a press conference on Tuesday. The decision was made clear as part of the “next phase” of the country’s vaccination campaign.
Those lining up to get their second shots are expected to get them on schedule as the states still get regular vaccine shipments. But state and local officials say they are angry and amazed at the changing trends and changing supply interpretations.
Oregon’s Director of Health, Patrick M. Allen, so annoyed that he wrote via Azar Thursday demanding an explanation. “Earlier today, we were concerned when we discovered that there were no additional doses available for personalization,” he said in the letter reviewed by the Washington Post.
In a phone call with Berna earlier that day, Allen wrote, the four-star Army general “has informed us that there is no dose reserve, and we are already receiving full allocations of vaccinations.”
Allen added: “If this is true, then this is extremely worrying, and it puts our plans to expand eligibility in grave danger.” “These plans are based on relying on your statement about” fully editing the offer “you have in reserve. If this information is accurate, we will not be able to start vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on January 23, as planned.”
HHS spokesperson, Michael Pratt, confirmed in an email that the final reserve for second doses was released to states for order over the weekend, but did not address Azar’s comments this week, only saying, “Operation Warp Speed has been monitoring manufacturing about Closely, it was always intended to transition from holding second doses in reserve as manufacturing stabilized and we gained confidence in the ability to have a consistent flow of vaccines. “
He also said that countries only requested about 75 percent of what was available to them.
Azar’s comments came on the heels of President-elect Joe Biden’s January 8th announcement Transfer team That his management Move to release All available doses, instead of keeping half reserve doses for booster doses. Biden advisers said the move would be a way to speed up the distribution of the vaccine, which is in short supply across the country.
When he adopted Azar change after four days – After initially saying it’s shortsighted and potentially unethical to put subjects at risk of losing the booster shots – It is not mentioned that the original policy has actually been phased out, or that stocks have run out. Noting countries that they will soon see an increase in supply, he also urged them to start vaccinating adults aged 65 or older and those under 64 years of age who have a high-risk medical condition. Officials in some states embraced the directive, while others said that suddenly putting hundreds of thousands of extra people at the front of the line would lead to their capacity being overwhelmed.
In subsequent talks with state and local authorities, people who participated in the talks said federal officials sought to amend these instructions. Gustave F.Perna, chief operations officer for Operation Warp Speed, spoke directly to officials in at least two of the jurisdictions receiving vaccine supplies, explaining that the allocations would not increase and that they did not have to expand eligibility as they were previously told, according to an unnamed health official. Authorized to discuss the matter.
The revised directive has delayed additional jurisdictions to expand their priority groups. A state health official noted that the updated eligibility guidelines announced Tuesday did not appear in Website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Although Azar and Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, had mentioned it as federal policy, in their remarks earlier this week under Original recommendations, Adults 65 or older and primary frontline workers should include priority group 2, known as Stage 1B, in line with the dimension of medical workers, residents, and long-term care facility staff.
But the issue of supply has been of more concern to state health officials.
“The countries were shocked and surprised that they did not witness an increase in their allocations. When they asked for explanations, some were told that there was no large stock of the second doses to benefit from them.” An official working with several states on planning the vaccination said he spoke on condition of anonymity to list the sensitive conversations. “They thought they were getting more doses and planned more doses and opened up to 65 and over, thinking they were getting more.”
In an email that reached some state officials Friday morning, Christopher Sharpstein, Operation Warp Speed director, described it as a “false rumor” that “the federal government was prohibiting vaccine doses in warehouses to ensure a second / booster dose.”
But it was Azar who said on Tuesday, “We are releasing all supplies we have for demand by countries, rather than keeping second doses in physical reserve.”
There was additional confusion. Azar said another change announced this week – making dose allocation dependent on how quickly countries administer it – will not take effect for two weeks.
But Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (Democratic) on Thursday chirp That federal officials have informed the state that it will receive an additional 50,000 doses next week as a “reward for being among the fastest in the states” to get a shot. Meanwhile, West Virginia, which is moving fastest clip based on CDC dataShe did not receive any additional doses, said Holly Nelson, a spokeswoman for the State National Guard.
In a sign that the incentive structure may not last long, a senior Biden transitional official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to address the ongoing deliberations, said this week that the team did not look kindly to a system that “punishes states”.