Frustration is building with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The Trump administration had pledged 20 million doses of the vaccine by year’s end, but so far, not even 3 million shots have been given and just over 11 million doses have been shipped.
President-elect Joe BidenTuesday that the Trump administration has overpromised and under-delivered. Mr. Biden noted that at the current pace, it would take years to vaccinate the country against COVID-19. Mr. Biden vowed to accelerate the pace of vaccinations and boost Americans’ confidence in the shots once he is sworn in next month.
“This is the greatest operational challenge we’ve faced as a nation,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday.
Mr. Biden said his incoming administration will move heaven and earth to get the vaccination effort back on track. “We can do it but it will take ramping up to 1 million shots a day, even so, it will take months to get the majority vaccinated,” he said.
Mr. Biden gave few details about how his administration will hit that mark but said he would invoke the Defense Production Act to accelerate needed supplies for vaccines. He called the recently passed $900 billion COVID relief bill a downpayment for controlling the pandemic.
Thousands of vulnerable senior citizens lined up Tuesday across Florida, some waiting overnight, hoping to secure a coveted first dose of the COVID vaccine. “He’s over 70, diabetic, and we thought, like everyone, this is a life or death vaccine,” Marie Petitti said of her husband, Tony.
But there are not enough vaccines for everyone in line in Lee County, which was at capacity by 7 a.m. Tuesday. Distribution has been slower than promised.
In Georgia, nursing home residents just started receiving the shot, 11 days after the FDA authorized the Moderna vaccine.
“It’s incredibly frustrating. Ten months into this pandemic, we’re still talking about the basics of how do we get vaccines into people’s arms,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.
“We have obviously a huge demand that is not being met, and there isn’t a well-coordinated, thoughtful plan for how we’re going to vaccinate,” Jha added.
Distribution plans and execution fall to already strapped public health departments.
The new COVID relief bill has $8.75 billion allocated for vaccination distribution, including $4.5 billion for states. But it will take time to distribute that money, delaying vital outreach campaigns.