Even if everything goes according to the federal government’s plan to introduce a coronavirus vaccine, many jurisdictions are initially only receiving a fraction of the doses they need to cover their healthcare workers.
For example, Minneapolis-St. The Paul metro region has been ordered by state officials to expect 19,000 doses, which is enough to fully vaccinate around 9,500 people as the vaccine calls for a course of two doses 21 days apart. A sister city source says it takes 57,000 doses to cover its frontline healthcare workers.
Earlier this week, the country’s governors began learning the number of doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to receive at the start of shipping.
In a document obtained from newsdos, officials at U.S. Vaccines Agency Operation Warp Speed say they are aiming for December 14th as the day Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will receive FDA approval for emergency use. They say 6.4 million cans will be ready to ship within 24 hours of emergency approval.
The number of doses a state receives depends on its population aged 18 and over.
Maine Democratic Governor Janet Mills said she was disappointed with the number of doses her state would receive in the initial federal grant of the Pfizer vaccine. The roughly 12,000 doses would cover roughly 6,000 people, roughly a third of the state’s health care workers.
“It’s a real problem,” because “our health workers here, like everywhere else, are in very poor health and the health system is collapsing due to staff shortages,” Mills said on a call to the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House this week.
On the conference call, Gustave Perna, CEO of Operation Warp Speed, warned the governors that their proposed allocation was tentative and that it would complete with the emergency clearance.
The Moderna vaccine would run out the following week, December 22nd, if that vaccine were given an emergency clearance. It also requires a two-dose course.
The governors decide who receives the first doses. OneThe Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the vaccine first to frontline health workers and residents of long-term care facilities – but for many states it is either one or the other.
A Connecticut official said the state is considering giving the vaccine to residents of long-term care facilities first, as those are the most common deaths.
“Our nursing homes have been tragically hit and we believe vaccine use will have the most life-saving effects on these residents,” the official said. The state expects 100,000 doses by the end of the year as both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are new.
There is a catch, however.
Once they get the vaccine from the federal government, the states are responsible for distributing it, a costly endeavor. Many states rely on funding for state and local aid established by the CARES Act, but the money will expire at the end of the year and Congress has yet to agree on an extension. Officials in five states told newsdos they were concerned about the consequences.
“That really should have happened a few weeks ago,” said a Utah official of the need for new funding. “The lack of action has created confusion in states. With the December 30th spending deadline, there will be significant costs that will be left to states.”
Without new federal funding, officials say there will be fewer vaccination centers and they will have to continue to rely on already financially troubled health systems to administer the vaccine.
“It is critical that Congress provide financial assistance to support the distribution of the vaccine,” said Jackie Farwell of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “We’re still debating what we’d do for all eventualities without this support and planning, but federal funding is critical to the success of this significant company.”
Other states are in doubt whether they will receive any further funding from the federal government to cover distribution costs.
“We are counting on the government to deliver the vaccine but not relying on them for additional funding for logistics,” said a Virginia official, who then added, “We would take the money if it did would be offered. “
Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer announced their support for a bipartisan two-chamber coronavirus relief plan on Wednesdayto state and local governments. It is not yet clear whether the White House will support this.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York would receive an initial shipment of enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to supply 170,000 New Yorkers on December 15, and expects further allocations from Pfizer and Moderna later this month.
Although the vaccine allocation was “welcome” news, Cuomo criticized the federal vaccination plan for “not only overlooking the black, brown and poor communities, but its data sharing provisions will prevent the undocumented community from receiving a vaccination.”
Not every state is willing to disclose the projected number of doses it will receive.
“At this point in time, for reasons including the proposed vaccines that haven’t received emergency approval, we haven’t received a solid allocation number. Therefore, safety and efficacy for various populations have not been established,” Pennsylvania officials said in a statement.
Sara Cook contributed to this report.