Demand for two doses of vaccine is straining states
The United States has entered a delicate phase of the COVID-19 vaccination effort as suppliers try to increase the number of people receiving the first vaccines while ensuring that a growing number of others receive second doses just as millions more Americans are becoming eligible to receive vaccines.
The need to give each person two doses a few weeks apart greatly complicates the country’s largest vaccination campaign. And lingering uncertainty about future vaccine supplies is fueling fears that some people may not be able to get their second injection on time.
In some cases, local health departments and providers have said they need to temporarily limit or even cancel first-dose appointments to ensure there are enough second doses for those who have them. need.
After receiving her first vaccine against COVID-19, Sarah Bouse was informed that she would be informed of the implementation of the second. But the notice never came, and she frantically called the Houston health department to schedule the recall the day before the deadline.
“It was frustrating – the waiting game and the conflicting information,” said Bouse, who is 26 and is eligible due to a medical condition. After hours on the phone, she finally managed to reach someone and schedule the shot.
For about a month, the United States has administered an average of 900,000 first doses each day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by the Associated Press. Now, many of these people are due for a second dose, and states are trying to give the first doses to a larger group of recipients.
âIt’s really important and essential to recognize that there are still not enough doses for everyone,â said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
So far, about 10% of the US population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, about 3% have received both doses, AP analysis showed.
In Los Angeles County, health officials say limited supplies mean the majority of vaccinations this week will be for second doses. In Napa County, State, some appointments for the first doses were canceled last week to ensure there would be enough for the second doses.
âWe get a lot of questions from community members asking, ‘Is my second dose in danger? “And at the moment, we don’t have an answer because it all depends on the inventory that comes from the state,” said Alfredo Pedroza, a county supervisor.
The two COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the United States require two injections a few weeks apart to maximize protection. For Pfizer, doses are supposed to be three weeks apart. For Moderna, it’s four weeks. But if necessary, the recall can be delayed for up to six weeks, according to the CDC, which updated its forecast late last month.
State and local health officials are now highlighting the extended delay in public messages to alleviate concerns that people may not receive their second injection on time. Federal officials have also said they are confident there will be enough doses to ensure people get their second injection.
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The difficulty in reserving the second dose is fueling concerns in some places. While many places schedule the recall when the first shot is given, others require people to schedule it later due to logistical issues.
In Mississippi, health officials have recognized that the process of planning for a second injection could be difficult.
It was a bit like trying to program the first one, with people having to fill out all the demographic information again, said Jim Craig of the Mississippi Department of Health.
Now the health department says people will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule their second dose.
In New Hampshire, authorities abandon current planning system after thousands of people struggle to reserve their boosters within the recommended deadlines – some being given an appointment for two months later. People will now get dates for their second shots when they have their first.
New Hampshire is one of many local jurisdictions that have registered to use the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS.
At the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada, another kind of scheduling problem arose last week when the site opened as a dedicated second-dose-only clinic. When appointments were made available online, people hungry for their first doses grabbed slots.
âWe’ve had enough shots – we just need to get crowd control somehow,â said JoAnn Rupiper of the Southern Nevada Health District.
People who had scheduled a first dose at the site had their appointments canceled, Rupiper said. To ensure that eligible people who have had trouble making online appointments get their second chance, the convention center is allowing walk-in tours.
Despite the confusion of schedules, health officials and providers say their main challenge remains the limited supplies and the variability in the number of doses dispensed from week to week. Even with the increase in shipments announced by President Joe Biden’s administration, local officials and providers say they don’t have enough doses to meet demand.
The shortage is one of the reasons why Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, noted the potential value of the single-injection vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which recently filed an application for emergency use authorization. This clichÃ© is also cheaper to produce and easier to ship.
Pedroza said last week’s cancellations in Napa County, California came after an increase in shipments a few weeks ago led the county to believe it would continue to receive at least as many doses. But the peak turned out to be a one-time boon, Pedroza said.
In Seattle, UW Medicine temporarily stopped making new appointments at the end of January due to limited supplies combined with the need to give others their second doses.
âIf there was more supply, we would be happy to make more appointments for the first dose,â said Cynthia Dold, associate vice president of clinical operations at UW Medicine.