The White House will increase its weekly vaccine supply to states by some 5% percent for the next three weeks, on top of the 16% increase announced last week, COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said in a Feb. 2 briefing.
“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities, and it’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably,” Zients said.
Zients also announced a new program that will deliver vaccines to certain pharmacies to avoid holdups in what has been a slow vaccine deployment process against the ongoing pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 2. Retail and pharmacy chains, including Kroger and Walmart Inc., will participate in the effort.
In its first phase, one million doses will be applied to some 6,500 stores beginning next week, an amount “consistent” with Moderna and Pfizer’s operations.
In its initial phase, the pharmacy effort beginning on Feb. 11 will focus on vaccinating communities that are most at risk of severe illness, with states working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on partnerships, administration officials said.
Zients added that “equity” is at the core of community selection in the national strategy encompassing coronavirus vaccine distribution. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that the vaccine deployment must prioritize people of color, Axios reported on Jan. 28. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) in September shows that people of color are at greater risk of death from COVID-19.
Broadly, vaccine rollout efforts have been seen as ineffective in recent months, with some saying that doses can be wasted if vaccines are not provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Not all Americans are eligible for the vaccine, and a supply shortage is still present. The U.S. fell short of its goal in December to inoculate 20 million people against the virus by the end of 2020.