- The effort to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of January is going much slower than anticipated.
- Dr. Fauci believes the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been ‘too rigid.’
- The Trump administration this week announced a new strategy that will prioritize vaccine shipments to states capable of administering it quickly.
To say that the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the United States has been disappointing would be a huge understatement. For a variety of reasons, the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer has been plagued by inefficiencies, bureaucratic red tape, and logistical missteps. So while health experts were hoping to vaccinate upwards of 20 million Americans by the end of the month, achieving that goal now seems unlikely.
Hardly a controversial take, even Dr. Fauci has criticized the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S. During an appearance on the “Futures Forum on Preparedness,” Fauci said the U.S. approach towards vaccine distribution has been “too rigid.”
Fauci’s main issue is that some states have been too strict when it comes to deciding which groups of people should have access to the vaccine. So while groups like healthcare workers and elderly individuals naturally should be prioritized, Fauci argues that the vaccine should be administered to folks outside of those groups under certain conditions. If a hospital, for example, has a few vaccine vials that are poised to expire, Fauci sees nothing wrong with giving it to otherwise healthy non-essential workers.
The overarching goal, Fauci says, is to vaccinate as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible. So while Fauci doesn’t think the U.S. should “abandon this prioritization,” he also wants to avoid scenarios where large quantities of the vaccine remain unused.
“If you can’t get to the people in the first group go to the people in the second group and start doing them,” Fauci said over the weekend. “I think if we do that, we’ll start getting more vaccine into the arms of people.
“Not to mention,” Fauci went on to say, “we have people who are in the last group, who we have seen are out and about and not taking all the precautions. So if we could get them vaccinated wouldn’t it help all of us?”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced some big changes to its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Effective immediately, states are now encouraged to offer the vaccine to anyone above the age of 65.
There will also be changes to how the vaccine is distributed amongst the states.
The call is accompanied by a change in how vaccine doses are allocated to states. Currently, doses are given to states based on their total adult populations. Starting in two weeks, vaccines will be distributed to states based on the number of over 65-year-olds who live there — and by the pace of vaccine administration reported by states.
“[This new allocation system] gives states a strong incentive to ensure doses are going to work, protecting people rather than sitting on shelves or in freezers,” [Alex] Azar said at the press briefing, “We need doses going to where they’ll be administered quickly and where they’ll protect the most vulnerable.”
States are also being encouraged to expand the number of vaccination sites and to take advantage of venues like convention centers to help speed things along.
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The new strategy certainly marks a step in the right direction and will hopefully help the U.S. boost its vaccination rate going forward.
A White House press briefing highlighting the new changes to vaccine distribution and administration can be viewed below: