The Biden Administration announced it will increase the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine by more than 20%, bringing the tally up to 13.5 million doses this week.
As NPR reported, COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients made the announcement to governors on Feb. 16 with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announcing the same day that the vaccine supply to pharmacies will double to 2 million.
The NPR article noted, “Though the distribution system has been more widely expanded since the Biden team has taken over, the life-saving medicine has been unequally distributed. White people, who demographically have escaped the deadliest impact of the virus, are getting vaccinated at much higher rates than are people of color, who are dying in significantly higher numbers.”
The Biden Administration began with a distribution pledge of 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within its first 100 days. But as Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Feb. 16, it could take until May or June before vaccines get to the general public, even with the recent ramp-up efforts.
As USA Today observed, that’s an adjustment from Fauci’s earlier prediction of April, which was “based on an expectation that Johnson & Johnson would be able to provide more doses than now looks possible.”
CNN reported, based on its conversation with a public health official, that Johnson & Johnson will have fewer than 10 million vaccine doses available if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes it for emergency use by the end of February.
Yet Zients asserts the current ramping up will improve matters. “This program will expand access to neighborhoods across the country,” Zients said about the initiative to directly distribute vaccines to pharmacies. He also characterized the increase to 13.5 million doses as “a minimum,” adding that “supply will continue to ramp up.”
USA Today also noted that COVID vaccine distribution and availability still vary wildly by state. In 35 states plus the District of Columbia, people 65 and older can now seek an appointment, yet a number of states still haven’t moved beyond vaccinating essential workers and those 75 and older.
The article also notes that “vaccination sites all over the country are shutting down while hundreds of thousands of people are on waiting lists.”
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