Hard-hit California has vaccinated just 1 percent of its 40 million residents while hundreds of seniors in Florida camped up in their cars overnight in order to get shots as the ‘train wreck’ vaccination rollout continues and the Surgeon General warned the US ‘needs to do a better job’.
Just 4.66 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the US in the last three weeks despite federal officials having distributed 15.4 million doses to the states.
It means more than two-thirds of the vaccines shipped within the US have gone unused and just 1.4 percent of the population has been vaccinated as cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to surge across the US.
One in 930 Americans have now died from COVID-19 with the death toll surging past 353,000 and the seven-day rolling average for fatalities at just over 2,600 per day. There were 180,477 new infections across the country on Monday and a record 128,210 patients currently being treated for coronavirus in hospitals.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday admitted that the largest vaccination campaign in US history, which has been in the works for months, has been a ‘little bit messy’.
He blamed, in part, the states for the slower than expected rollout – even though the federal government has already fallen short of its initial promise to have 20 million doses available by the end of 2020.
The race to vaccinate Americans quickly comes as a super-contagious mutant strain of COVID-19 that has forced the UK into its third lockdown has already been detected in the US. Ten people, who are spread across New York, California, Colorado and Florida, have been confirmed to have the variant of the virus.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that one in 50 in England – around a million people – are now infected with coronavirus.
Hundreds of seniors camped up in their cars overnight on Monday in Daytona Beach, Florida parking lot in order to get their first dose of the vaccine. In Florida, where officials have put senior citizens ahead of many essential workers for getting the vaccine. Image courtesy of NBC
Just 4.66 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the US in the last three weeks despite federal officials having distributed 15.4 million doses to the states
In other COVID-19 vaccine news:
- California has only vaccinated 1 percent of its 40 million population
- Governors of New York and Florida have vowed to penalize hospitals that fail to dispense shots quickly
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city’s hospitals vaccinated just 148 people across the five boroughs on January 1 – delivering just 13 doses per hospital
- According to a state-by-state breakdown, Kansas and Georgia have only administered 17 percent of the doses distributed to them
- Most states are prioritizing healthcare workers in hospitals for phase one but Florida is allowing senior citizens to be among the first vaccinated
Based on guidelines issued by the federal government, most states are currently prioritizing frontline healthworkers and nursing home residents in the first phase, before moving on to the elderly and other essential workers.
Adams told NBC’s Today that governors across the country could speed up the process by moving to the next priority groups if demand wasn’t being met.
‘In many cases, (the vaccines) are sitting in freezers. We’ve been telling these states since September, we need to prioritize getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible while trying to adhere to the guidelines,’ Adams said.
‘If healthcare workers don’t want to get these vaccines in some places… we need to move on to the (next groups).
‘If the demand isn’t there in 1A, go to 1B and continue on down. If the demand isn’t there in one location, move those vaccines to another location.’
He said the US needed to do a better job of matching up supply and demand in states like Florida where hundreds of seniors camped out in their cars overnight in Daytona Beach in order to get their shots.
The seniors camped out in the Daytona Stadium parking lot so they could be first in line for at the drive-thru vaccine facility. In other parts of Florida, seniors are registering online to get access to the shots.
‘The problem is we need to do a better job of matching up supply and demand at the local level,’ Adams said.
‘Some states are doing a really good job. You have red states like North and South Dakota and blue places like DC and Connecticut who have distributed 75 plus percent of their vaccines. But you have some states that still haven’t distributed 25 percent of their vaccines.’
According to a state-by-state breakdown, Kansas and Georgia have only administered 17 percent of the doses distributed to them. Hard-hit California has so far used 24 percent of its vaccine shots, while Florida has used 23 percent. New York, the initial epicenter of the outbreak, has used up 33 percent of its allocation.
Only a handful of states have used more than 50 percent of the shots distributed to them: South Dakota (62%), North Dakota (58%), Tennessee (50%), Connecticut (50%) and Maine (50%).
According to a state-by-state breakdown, Kansas and Georgia have only administered 17 percent of the doses distributed to them. Hard-hit California has so far used 24 percent of its vaccine shots, while Florida has used 23 percent
California Gov Gavin Newsom said on Monday that his state has only vaccinated 1 percent of the population.
He said distribution hiccups and logistical challenges have slowed the initial vaccine rollout in California, setting a pace that he said is ‘not good enough’.
The 454,000 doses of vaccine that have been administered in California represent just a third of the more than nearly 1.3 million received in the state so far, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday admitted that the largest vaccination campaign in US history, which has been in the works for months amid the pandemic, has been a ‘little bit messy’
Even as he acknowledged the state must do better, Newsom sought to shift some responsibility for the slow rollout, noting ‘the vaccines don’t arrive magically in some state facility.’
The governors of New York and Florida have already vowed to penalize hospitals that fail to dispense shots quickly.
In New York, hospitals must administer vaccines within a week of receiving them or face a fine and a reduction in future supplies, Gov Andrew Cuomo said, just hours before announcing the state’s first known case of a new, more infectious coronavirus variant originally detected in Britain.
‘I don’t want the vaccine in a fridge or a freezer, I want it in somebody’s arm,’ Cuomo said. ‘If you’re not performing this function, it does raise questions about the operating efficiency of the hospital.’
New York hospitals on the whole have dispensed fewer than half of their allocated doses to date, but performance varied from one group of hospitals to another.
The NYC Health + Hospitals system, the city’s main public hospital network, has only administered 31 percent of its allotment, compared with 99 percent for a few private hospitals in the state.
The CDC reported an even lower vaccine uptake for New York overall, saying fewer than one in five of the 896,000 doses shipped to the state since mid-December have been given.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed on Monday that the city’s hospitals vaccinated just 148 people across the five boroughs on January 1 – delivering just 13 doses per hospital.
It came as he promised to vaccinate 100,000 people every week going forward.
FLORIDA: Health care professionals administer the Covid-19 vaccine in the Municipal Stadium parking lot in Daytona Beach on Monday
NEW YORK: A resident at Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation, a nursing home facility, receives the Pfizer vaccine from Walgreens pharmacists in Brooklyn on Monday
CALIFORNIA: Engineer/paramedic Bonnie Breckenridge (right), gives the the Pfizer vaccine to Fire Chief Colin Stowell (left) at the San Diego Fire-Rescue Training Facility
Why the vaccine rollout has proceeded so slowly:
- Shipping delays created chaos in the first weeks, a mistake General Gustave Perna apologized for
- Overstretched hospitals have struggled to find enough staffers to administer the shots
- Some governors have issued increasingly convoluted restrictions on who gets the jabs
- Local and state officials complain that their public health offices are underfunded
- Some healthcare workers have refused the vaccine, with reports of 50% declining in some areas
- Cold storage requirements create logistical hurdles and tight windows for administering the vaccine
In Florida, where officials have put senior citizens ahead of many essential workers for getting the vaccine, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a policy under which the state would allocate more doses to hospitals that dispense them most quickly.
‘Hospitals that do not do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job at getting the vaccine out,’ DeSantis said.
‘We do not want vaccine to just be idle at some hospital system,’ he added, although he did not say they would face fines.
Florida, which has dispensed less than a quarter of the 1.14 million doses it has received, according to the CDC, will also deploy an additional 1,000 nurses to administer vaccines and will keep state-run vaccination sites open seven days a week, DeSantis said.
In Florida, in particular, elderly residents have said they are unsure how to even access the vaccine – even though they are being prioritized.
Some counties have set up online portals or phone lines so elderly residents can sign up for vaccinations but multiple local health departments reported crashing systems on Monday.
Dr Amesh Adalja, a scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said New York and Florida were being ‘overly bureaucratic’ in penalizing hospitals over vaccine deliveries even as they coped with soaring patient caseloads.
‘Instead of fining hospitals, why not give them more resources to do this, more money, more staffing?’ he said.
Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary Dr Rachel Levine has blamed the holiday period for their slow rollout. The state has so far administered 163,207 of its allocated 592,125 doses.
‘I think it was always going to be a challenge during those two to three weeks to administer the shots that were sent to us,’ Levine said.
Across the country, the pace of immunizations has gone slower than planned due to logistical hurdles and differing approaches across states and counties.
The failure to speedily vaccinate millions of Americans has already been blamed on various factors, including lack of federal oversights and chaotic distribution.
The 20 million-dose goal hasn’t been reached in part because local health departments and medical facilities had to stay focused on testing to handle a surge in cases, the Surgeon General has previously said, adding that the holiday season meant health workers were taking time off.
Medical authorities have confronted widespread distrust of immunization safety, even among some healthcare workers, owing in part to the record speed with which COVID-19 vaccines were developed and approved 11 months after the virus emerged in the US.
But some officials also have cited organizational glitches in launching the most ambitious mass inoculation campaign in the nation’s history in the year-end holiday season.
‘The logistics of getting it going into the people who want it is really the issue,’ Dr Anthony Fauci, told MSNBC. ‘We’re not where we want to be. No doubt about that. ‘I don’t think we can blame it all on vaccine hesitancy.’
CASES PER CAPITA: While the dire situation in California continues to unfold, Arizona is now currently the worst affected state for cases per capita with an average of 121 cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days, according to the latest CDC data
The race to vaccinate American quickly comes as a super-contagious mutant strain of COVID-19 that has forced the UK into its third lockdown has already been detected in the US. Ten people, who are spread across New York, California, Colorado and Florida, have been confirmed to have the variant of the virus