Following guidance from the Health and Human Services Secretary and CDC Director to increase who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, states are now dealing with a chaotic situation with a surge of people trying to find a shot. And now, multiple governors are saying the promised increased shipments of the vaccine are not coming from the federal government.
On Tuesday, Secretary Alex Azar announced the government would no longer hold back vaccine reserves meant for the second doses of the vaccines, which would practically double the supply to states. He also told states, because of the increased supply, to immediately start vaccinating groups lower down the priority scale, like people who are 65 or younger with certain health concerns.
However, Friday morning, the Washington Post, along with a handful of governors, report there is no vaccine reserve, and no increased supply of vaccine is coming for states who have now increased the number of people eligible for the shot. Several states have been informed of the discrepancy, and are now scrambling.
Oregon's Governor, Kate Brown, tweeted about how she found out on Friday.
"Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses," her tweet reads.
Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) January 15, 2021
Colorado's governor announced during a daily COVID-19 briefing that "there is no national reserve" and his state will get fewer vaccine doses next week than expected.
At the time Azar made his announcement on Tuesday, the vaccine reserve had already been depleted, the Washington Post reports. The Trump administration had already started shipping out what was being held in reserve at the end of December.
Governor Brown tweeted she considers the actions "deception on a national scale," and that seniors, teachers and others in Oregon were counting on those extra doses from the reserve.
Both vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require two doses. Because of this, the administration was initially holding back those second doses in case there were manufacturing disruptions after the first dose was given.
The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.
Mississippi’s Health Department stopped taking new appointments the same day it began accepting them because of a “monumental surge” in requests. People had to wait hours to book appointments through a state website or a toll-free number Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were booted off the site because of technical problems and had to start over.
California counties are begging for more vaccine doses to reach millions of its senior citizens.
The U.S. recorded an all-time one-day high of 4,327 deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s overall death toll since the pandemic started has topped 389,000 as of Friday morning.