Anger in states over pace of COVID-19 vaccine allotments

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Uncertainty over the pace of federal COVID-19 vaccine allocations sparked anger and confusion in some states on Friday, with officials concerned that the shipments they expected would not reach.

The developments threatened to escalate tensions between the Trump administration and some states over who is responsible for the relatively slow start of the vaccination campaign against the scourge that has killed more than 390,000 Americans.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown was among the more outspoken officials. She said that Oregon’s efforts to increase vaccinations have been destabilized due to “nationwide deception” by the administration.

Via Twitter, Brown said Gen. Gustav F. Perna, who heads the federal Operation Warp Speed ​​vaccination program, told him that states will not receive an increase in shipments of vaccine from the national stockpile next week “because there is no has no federal reserve of doses. “

Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, said governors were “explicitly told” on Tuesday that they would receive additional doses. Northam, a Democrat and doctor, had acted swiftly as a result of announcing that the state would expand vaccine eligibility.

Now the Northam administration is trying to determine if these additional supplies are not there, Yarmosky said.

“What we are seeing is fully consistent with the dysfunction that has characterized the entire Trump administration response to COVID-19. President-elect Biden cannot be sworn in quickly enough, ”she said.

In California, a spokesperson for the state medical association, Anthony York, said reports of the federal vaccine stock running out was “a serious disappointment.”

“It’s that kind of whiplash coming out of Washington that’s really going to hamper the state’s ability to communicate clearly with people about who can get vaccinated and when,” he said.

Michael Pratt, a spokesperson for the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said there may be confusion over expectations, but there has been no reduction in vaccine doses shipped to states .

“States don’t see any reduction in anything,” Pratt said. “Maybe they see lower expectations.”

As of Friday, the government had distributed more than 31 million doses to states, U.S. territories and major cities. But only about 12.3 million doses had been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online tracking.

The two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States – manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna – are designed to be given in two doses, three or four weeks apart.

For weeks, Operation Warp Speed ​​had kept large amounts of vaccine in reserve to ensure those who received their first dose received their second on time. This practice was a protection against possible manufacturing delays. When HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced on Tuesday that he was ending the practice, it was interpreted as a doubling of the planned supply.

But there was another huge change: He also urged states to open up vaccination to all people over 65 and younger with certain health conditions, even though most had not yet completed all of them. health workers first or moved up to the next level, 75 and older workers and other essential workers.

The result was a scramble from national and local health authorities to figure out exactly how much vaccine they would receive in the coming weeks and how to speed up mass immunization plans faster for an audience with higher expectations.

Pratt said the doses kept in reserve to provide the second injections were …

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