State Watch

Governors say CDC cutting vaccine allocations

Governors in multiple states have been told by the Trump administration to expect fewer doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine next week than had been originally planned.

The move has sparked confusion in states, which need to alert hospitals and nursing homes of how many doses to expect. 

The news has also raised questions about communications between the federal government and states, and whether the administration can meet its goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of the year. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Thursday tweeted that he was told his state’s allocation of the new vaccine, produced by Pfizer and the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, would be slashed by 40 percent.

“This is disruptive and frustrating. We need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on-the-ground success,” Inslee wrote on Twitter.  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said his state, too, was told its allocations would be less than expected. 

“We just heard some of this today,” Hogan said during a press briefing. “We’re trying to figure out the details of it.”

Hogan said the change shouldn’t impact the first wave of shipments, and that by next week, every hospital in the state and every nursing home will have vaccines. 

Hogan said federal officials have promised 320,000 doses between Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year, and he hopes that isn’t going to change. 

According to the Maryland governor, officials give states projections on what will be shipped at the beginning of the week. The projections are then updated and finalized on Friday, to ship out on Sunday.

But governors have been asking for more advance notice to lock in future shipments, which could impact the ability of federal officials to determine how many doses are able to be released.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week told reporters that orders will now be locked in Tuesday nights, “so that they can have several more days of planning for us to initiate the shipping for the following week.”

If Moderna’s vaccine is granted emergency use authorization, doses of this vaccine will also be included in the Tuesday night allocation.

“And then, then states can just order, based on their allocations accordingly,” said Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the CEO of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed. 

For next week, Azar said the administration will deliver 2 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, and 5.9 million doses of Moderna’s if it is authorized.

But uncertainty has persisted.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) also said their expected allocations have been reduced.

Pritzker during a press conference on Wednesday said he anticipates about half as many doses as was originally promised.

“I now no longer believe projections that are put in front of us by the federal government,” Pritzker said. “Having said that, we’re hopeful that they’re accurate.”

DeSantis said new shipments were “on hold,” and that if they arrive, he is anticipating fewer doses than he was previously told.

“Initially we were going to get 200,000 next week and 250,000 the following week, the last week of December. Then they said you may get none necessarily. We have production issues,” DeSantis said Wednesday.

He added the state could still be getting a shipment. 

“I don’t think it’s going to be quite 200,000, but we are encouraged by that,” DeSantis said.

An HHS spokeswoman denied that any allocation plans had changed.

“Reports that jurisdictions’ allocations are being reduced are incorrect. As was done with the initial shipments of Pfizer vaccine, jurisdictions will receive vaccine at different sites over several days. This eases the burden on the jurisdictions and spreads the workload across multiple days,” the spokeswoman said. 

“This same process was successfully used for the initial distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine, and we are simply applying lessons learned,” she said. “Operation Warp Speed is committed to delivering jurisdictions’ allocated vaccines according to their plans safely, quickly and efficiently.”

Pfizer said earlier on Thursday said it is not experiencing any production issues or delays.

“We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,” the drugmaker said.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days apart. Federal officials are holding back the second doses in an effort to make sure everyone can get the first shot.

A source close to the planning said there are far more doses in Pfizer’s warehouse than just the amount for a second dose. 



—Nathaniel Weixel contributed. Updated at 7:35 p.m. 

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 Department of Health and Human Services Jay Inslee Larry Hogan Maryland Ron DeSantis Washignton

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