WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — Instead of maintaining a reserve, the Trump administration will begin releasing all of the country’s COVID-19 vaccines during its final days at the White House.
The Biden administration planned to end the current policy of holding back supply for second doses.
“Get more and more of the vulnerable individuals in our country vaccinated,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Redfield and other Operation Warp Speed officials reported Tuesday the U.S. has now vaccinated about nine million people against the coronavirus but produced nearly 40 million doses.
“We clearly have enough vaccine at this point to begin to expand,” Redfield said.
Redfield urged states to start vaccinating those 65 and older, as well as those 64 and younger with documented comorbidities.
“Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied,” said Health Secretary Alex Azar.
Azar announced states will receive doses based on the percentage of these specific populations, instead of the entire state population, beginning in two weeks. Under the new guidelines, vaccine allocation will also be based on how many doses a state received versus how many it distributed.
“That should not necessarily hurt many states but will enhance the benefit to those that are actually getting vaccines done and performed,” Azar said.
Data from some states continues to show slow distribution efforts. While Redfield is investigating if it’s a reporting problem, Azar blamed some state leaders.
“Some governors have overreacted,” he said.
Azar said the new performance incentives should fix any backlog.
“If you try to be too micromanaged, too tailored, too focused, you let the perfect be the enemy of the good in a mass vaccine campaign like this,” he said.
These officials said if supplies start to run low, Americans who need their second dose will first get priority.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief advisor for Operation Warp Speed, expects to have millions of doses of a third vaccine available next month. Unlike the first two, it does not require a second dose.