Amid a complex, difficult mass immunization effort nationwide, the spotlight has shifted to the clear disconnect between a militant-style cadence of vaccine distibution, and the efforts of some resource-strained states scrambling to administer those doses.
Following reports that the U.S. will likely fall short of its goal to administer 20 million vaccines into Americans’ arms by the end of 2020, Fox News has learned that the federal Human and Health Services department is pushing back, with Michael Pratt, chief communications officer for Operation Warp Speed at HHS, saying the government has shipped over 14 million doses to date, and cannot control when states actually administer the vaccine.
Nearly 2.8 million people in the U.S. have received the first vaccine of a two-dose regimen, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though officials have said there are lags in reporting that data. The CDC’s website also lists over 12.4 million doses distributed.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday that he hopes the states will start “gaining momentum” with administering vaccines.
“We were hoping that as we ended December 31, we will have had 20 million doses in the arms of individuals and obviously from the numbers … that’s not the case. What we hope is they will now be gaining momentum as we catch up with this,” Fauci said.
“Whenever you have a very large operation, such as trying to vaccinate an entire country with a new vaccine, there always will be bumps in the road and hiccups about that.”
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Fauci said many states and local authorities do not have the resources necessary to establish vaccination programs at the right efficiency. As states “gain momentum,” Fauci hopes the U.S. will be on target with vaccinations in the middle of January, February and March.
But tasking heavily burdened health systems with administering vaccines (some of which have strict sub-freezing storage requirements), compounded by strained resources like staffing and funding, may explain the clear disconnect between rollout and distribution.
Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan appeared on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday to discuss another issue stemming from a miscommunication that cropped up two weeks ago, when states were told to expect far fewer doses than originally planned.
“The federal government did not deliver the number that they were originally telling the states that they would get…there wasn’t a lot of support, no financial support and no real plan,” Hogan said.
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While President Trump signed off on the new $2.3 trillion pandemic relief and government spending package Sunday, some say the allocation of funds eventually trickling down to counties will come far too little, too late.
Fox News Edward Lawrence contributed to this report.