January 13, 2021

COVID Vaccines

On Tuesday, “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a series of major changes to increase supply of vaccines, extend eligibility to more seniors and provide more locations for people to get shots… Azar also said the government will stop holding back the required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines…

“The move to increase the supply of vaccines better aligns the outgoing administration with the new Biden-Harris team. On Friday, President-elect Joe Biden said he will rapidly release most available vaccine doses to protect more people.” AP News

Here’s a tracker of vaccines received and administered by state. Bloomberg

Many on both sides are supportive of releasing additional vaccine doses:

“As supply chain experts who have followed closely the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we believe that at this early stage, Operation Warp Speed and health care providers should not hold back the second doses… holding back a significant proportion of doses makes sense only when the supply is expected to decrease because of manufacturing and supply chain disruptions. While supply disruptions are a real possibility, the likelihood of such a scenario is relatively low. Both Pfizer and Moderna are ramping up their vaccine production, and we expect to see an uptick in the coming months, which means there is little reason to hold as much as half of vaccine doses to protect against production glitches…

“Even if vaccine supply remains flat, most health care providers will still be able to satisfy the need for second doses. By not holding back doses, more people can receive their first doses earlier, which maximizes the power of COVID-19 vaccines to end the pandemic… In the unlikely event that future supply becomes more constrained due to supply disruptions, we can at that point decide whether to prioritize those who need a second dose or use the limited supplies for vaccinating more people with the first dose. But for now, we do not need to, nor should we, make that decision.”
Tinglong Dai and Prashant Yadav, USA Today

“I have no problem whatsoever with the Biden plan providing that the recipients adhere to the terms of the FDA’s conditional approval. In other words, increase the vaccine supply, but ensure proper administration based on current science and federal law. The part that needs to change is the strict adherence to the pecking order. This is meant as guidance only, but is being too strictly enforced. This is the main reason that with over 22 million vaccine doses distributed as of Friday night, only 7 million shots have been administered…

It is tragic that regulations are getting in the way of immunizations, especially when there are plenty of custodial workers, food preparers, elderly patients and other high-risk individuals who would line up to take vaccines that suddenly became available… To realize how fumbled the current vaccine rollout is, we can look to back to 1947, when a single case of smallpox in New York City led to a mass vaccination program of 6 million people in less than a month, using glass syringes as opposed to modern techniques.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News

Many also criticize New York and other states’ vaccine rollouts:

New York City comptroller Scott Stringer states that “We’re hearing from young people who are trying to make appointments for their parents who are 75 and older, and they’re having trouble navigating the system. It’s just complex, burdensome, and buggy. You know there’s a problem when you have a site that has a six-step process just to get an appointment and there are 51 questions that need to be asked, including uploading images of an insurance card. This is not how you roll out the most important vaccine in our lifetime…

“[This is] the continued failure of management of the de Blasio administration. They were slow to get testing up and running, but, in all fairness, there was this unknown virus that took hold. But we knew the vaccine was coming almost from the moment the virus hit. It was in the can, the protocols were being developed, the approvals were coming in November. The fact that there wasn’t an aggressive battle plan to prepare both a functional website and 24/7 vaccination sites and make this the most important comeback moment for New York was shocking, distressing, and, quite frankly, outrageous.”
James D. Walsh, New York Magazine

“How is it not the absolute highest priority for bureaucrats to make the flow of information on both sides of the process as easy as possible? Create a centralized website with a widget to make an appointment and information on where to go, and simplify it to the point that a precocious six-year-old could figure it out. Name, time and date of appointment, that’s it. Or set aside some hours at the local pharmacy each day where seniors can just walk in… Thousands upon thousands of seniors in New York are going to give up on the process, exasperated that they can’t get scheduled. Another win for America’s worst governor.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Cuomo announced last week that hospitals who didn’t promptly use all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that they had available would be fined up to $100,000. Under this new ‘use it or lose it’ policy, hospitals who do not roll out the vaccine quickly enough could be cut off from receiving additional doses in the future… Many are pointing out the hypocrisy in the state’s decision, as Cuomo was initially also adamant that all health care workers must be vaccinated before he agrees to provide vaccines to other vulnerable groups…

“Cuomo has also threatened health care providers with fines of up to $1 million dollars and the revocation of state licenses if they fail to follow state prioritization protocols. After reports surfaced of medical providers literally throwing away unused doses because they couldn’t find patients who matched the state’s guidelines, the Cuomo administration abruptly changed course… The state’s mishandling of vaccine distribution is unsurprising, but disturbing nonetheless. Throughout this botched rollout, New York’s top official has placed the specter of financial burdens on the already overstretched health care industry and its staff.”
Priyanka Bansal, Teen Vogue

“In southern California, nearly all ICU beds are full, and oxygen supplies are running low. Doctors are scoring COVID-19 patients based on overall health status to reserve treatments and beds for those most likely to survive. Yet California has managed to use only 28 percent of its vaccines as of Monday. Arizona has used only 24 percent, even though it has the nation’s highest infection rate…

The vaccine roll-out has been a disaster because states failed to prepare, despite having nine months’ warning. Cuomo is now telling unions to figure out how to vaccinate their members themselves, as if he just heard about the vaccines yesterday. Our survival shouldn’t depend on these incompetent governors. Washington needs to act now.”
Betsy McCaughey, New York Post

Here’s a fascinating account of how orphans helped to distribute smallpox vaccines in the 1800s. The Atlantic

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Right

From the Left

A libertarian's take

Micromanagement is impeding the rollout. In South Carolina, for instance, a medical assistant often gives injections in a doctor’s office, and the job requires no special certification. For Covid-19 vaccines, however, the state says that even someone with decades of experience can’t administer a shot unless they have an official credential…

“States could also make it much easier for medical professionals to organize vaccination drives. Allow any practice to set up days when they offer shots to their employees, patients and the community. Leave it up to them to decide who can administer the injections and how to manage sign-ups. Just provide the vaccines.”
Virginia Postrel, Bloomberg

On the bright side...

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.