‘Use it or lose it!’ Biden warns states he will send their unused vaccines to parts of the country that want them – as daily vaccination rates drop to their lowest point since February
- The White House told governors that states who do not use their full vaccination allocation will be redistributed to other states where they are in higher demand
- The first vaccine distribution change since Biden took office is to help deal with supply and demand for the shot in different areas of the country
- In recent weeks, many states like Iowa and Arkansas have seen large amounts of doses not being distributed
- Stark contrast to earlier this year where most states found it almost impossible to keep the vaccine stocked
The White House told governors Tuesday morning it will begin redistributing vaccine doses from states where they are going unused to other areas where there is higher demand as the number of new shots administered dropped to its lowest point in three months.
The new procedure, first reported by The Washington Post, will make sure unused doses do not carry over weekly, and instead be added to a federal bank available to states where demand outweighs supply.
States who do not or refuse their full allocation in one week will not lose out permanently, and only have to hand over their doses to the government on a one-time basis.
Initial distribution will still depend on the adult population in each state.
In recent weeks, many states have seen large amounts of those doses not being distributed – unlike earlier this year where most states found it almost impossible to keep stocked in order to keep up with demand.
Joe Biden told governors on Tuesday that states who do not use their full vaccination allocation will be redistributed to other states where they are in higher demand
The number of vaccines distributed on Monday, May 3 was the lowest it has been since late February
Arkansas officials confirmed that they declined their entire share of vaccine doses last week and this week Iowa turned down nearly three quarters of the doses available to the state claiming demand for the shots remains weak there.
Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Jeff Zients said the changes in distribution shows government focus on making shots available to everyone who is eager to get vaccinated.
He said that 80 per cent of people over the age of 65 have received at least one dose and underscored the next immunization campaign will be focused on continuing to build confidence in the vaccine and improve access.
‘There is a need to add more flexibility to the current system,’ Zients told the Post, adding people willing to drive long distances have been covered.
Weekly COVID-19 vaccine distribution is based on the American adult population per state
Since December, inoculations have been steadily on the rise, with major spikes in March and April as the administration improved its distribution strategy and messaging for some hesitant communities.
On May 3, the number of vaccines administered across the country hit a low not seen since late February.
The seven-day average of daily shots dropped by 17 per cent in the last week and since April 13 has dropped by 33 per cent.
Areas, such as the Northeast, West coast and Rust Belt, have seen higher percentages of the population vaccinated.
States with higher hesitancy, which tend to lean red, have much lower percentages of inoculated individuals despite having much smaller populations.
The White House is grappling with the ‘use it or lose it’ strategy coming off was a way for it to penalize states or pick winners and losers.
It is, however, highly dedicated to the population based distribution.
Notably, the administration rejected Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plea to surge vaccines to her state as it faced a surge in cases in March and April.
Previous guidelines allowed pharmacies to reallocate 20 per cent of its state’s vaccine allocation, while new rules will allow pharmacies discretion on where as much as 50 per cent of the doses go.