Nam Y. Huh/AP
President Biden’s COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20% to 13.5 million doses this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced.
Psaki also said the supply going directly to pharmacies will double to 2 million this week.
Before taking office, Biden promised to improve and streamline Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses into arms in the first 100 days of his administration.
Tuesday’s announcement followed a letter from the National Governors Association sent on Monday, asking Biden “for enhanced reporting and coordination between federal and state governments on COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.”
The letter also asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve its vaccine reporting system.
“Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides public information on a state and territory level as to the number of vaccines distributed to each state and the number of vaccinations performed. The CDC reporting mechanism has created unnecessary confusion. We would ask that the CDC reporting accurately reflects the reality,” the letter states.
The CDC says its data may reflect a reporting lag of up to five days.
States receive weekly vaccine allocations from the federal government based on their total adult populations. Each state has its own plan for how to get those vaccines out to its residents.
Governors noted the confusion among citizens who have difficulty distinguishing between programs run by the states and those run by the federal government, including the federal Long-term Care Facilities program, federal pharmacy program and the Federally Qualified Health Centers program. These are not within the states’ control.
“Second,” the governors wrote, “we believe that federal decisions to use pharmacies and FQHCs should be coordinated with state governments.”
As NPR reported, Biden’s program began on Feb. 11, with vaccines sent to about 6,500 pharmacies nationwide. At the time, Zients said it would eventually reach 40,000 retail pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid locations.
Though the distribution system has been more widely expanded since the Biden team has taken over, the life-saving medicine has been unequally distributed. White people, who demographically have escaped the deadliest impact of the virus, are getting vaccinated at much higher rates than are people of color, who are dying in significantly higher numbers.
As of Tuesday morning, nearly 12% of the U.S. population had received the first dose of the vaccine but only 4% percent have been inoculated with both shots.