Trump admin to announce new, swifter procedure for nationwide vaccine rollout
Sweeping changes to the way vaccines are being distributed across the United States are in the works, according to CNN.
The news outlet is reporting that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce the massive adjustment Tuesday (Jan. 12) and explain that the purpose of the new process is to boost the lagging number of vaccinations in the first month.
The Trump administration plans to release reserved second doses immediately, CNN reports. It goes on to say that the reserved doses are likely to be distributed over the next two weeks.
The move comes after Trump administration officials recently disparaged Biden's plan to do the same.
According to CNN, the new plan would also change guidelines to allow vaccinations immediately for anyone 65 and older and help states set up mass vaccination sites should they request assistance. The administration aims to shift focus away from hospitals and focus more on adding more accessible venues, like pharmacies.
This will attempt to address a reoccurring issue states have faced in trying to administer the vaccine through hospitals and medical providers that may not have the resources or personnel to serve as vaccination clinics.
CNN notes that both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines require two rounds of injection, and while releasing nearly all vaccine doses on hand has its benefits, a downside is that it also runs the risk of depleting resources that are necessary to make sure people are fully vaccinated.
The change follows two Operation Warp Speed meetings held by HHS Secretary Alex Azar over the past 48 hours about how to speed up the lagging process, CNN says. Vaccine manufacturing has not ramped up as rapidly as many experts had hoped.
Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday morning, Azar downplayed the significance of the shift, calling it "just a staging, moving to the next phase on the vaccine program."
Last week, two top officials from the FDA said anyone who receives the reserved vaccines needs both doses. They opposed the idea of stretching the supply by allowing only one dose or cutting doses in half.
They also negated ideas related to stretching the vaccine supply and said people who are speculating about the possibility of making do with just one dose or cutting doses in half are misinterpreting the data.
"We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks, who heads FDA's vaccine division, said in a statement at the time.
Nearly 9 million people have received their first doses of vaccine and nearly 25.5 million doses of vaccine have now been distributed, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.