All 50 States Preorder Covid-19 Vaccines, Submit Distribution Plans to CDC

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “All 50 States Preorder Covid-19 Vaccines, Submit Distribution Plans to CDC” – below is their description.

    Weeks before states expect to receive their first shipments of Covid-19 vaccines, conflicting messages from the federal government have obscured exactly how many doses may arrive.

    Some governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom, have made splashy announcements about how much of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccines they expect should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize them this month. Other states can’t provide a solid answer given how quickly estimates change.

    But all must submit orders and distribution plans Friday, and the shifting expectations compound other complications. States must find dry ice to store finicky formulas that require delicate timetables to administer. They must decide how to get the shots to residents equitably. And they must do so using a public-health infrastructure withered after decades of underfunding and neglect. At stake is an efficient escape from the deadliest pandemic in a century.

    “States are throwing their hands up figuring out the math, and are saying, ‘Just tell me the amount and stay with it,’” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

    Officials of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s project to accelerate vaccine creation, told states in late November their expected allotment of doses for December. Officials said the total supply would be 6.4 million of the Pfizer vaccine and 12.5 million of Moderna’s shot.

    The goal is to send initial shipments immediately after FDA authorization, with fresh doses delivered in weekly installments after that. The first batches are expected to arrive in states as soon as mid-December.

    The government has said the first batch will be divided among 69 entities — states, territories, large cities and the departments of State, Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. They are to be allocated using an apparently straightforward calculation: their proportion of the adult population.

    “It’s pro rata,” Army General Gustave Perna, chief operations officer of Operation Warp Speed, said in a Wednesday briefing. “It’s a math problem in execution.”

    But Natalie Baldassarre, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to say how many doses are allocated to each entity or how agency allotments would be calculated. Spokespeople for the departments declined to provide the number of vaccines they expect or didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    The Indian Health Service “will work within the amount allocated,” and hopes to vaccinate half its health-care personnel, said spokesman Joshua Barnett.

    Few states contacted by Bloomberg News could provide an accurate estimate.

    Michigan, for example, heard several different numbers in the past few days, everything from a couple hundred thousand to under 90,000, Health Department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said in an email.

    California is counting on Pfizer, Newsom said at a Thursday news conference. “We have all the confidence the 327,600 doses will be made available,” he said, but added that officials remain in “advanced conversation” with Moderna.

    States lack a solid grasp on the federal calculations, said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

    “It’s not highly transparent, I will say that,” Plescia said.

    Wisconsin is lobbying for special help. Democratic Governor Tony Evers said in a briefing Thursday that Republican lawmakers have hindered the response and created a disaster. He wants enough doses to vaccinate all 450,000 of the state’s health-care workers, more than seven times the 60,000 he expects at the outset.

    “Wisconsin is uniquely facing challenges,” Evers said. “We are asking the federal government to prioritize distributing vaccines in Wisconsin.”

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