Operation Warp Speed Changes Vaccine Release and Allocation
by Larry Janezich
Posted January 12, 2021
HHS Secretary Azar and other top officials from Operation Warp Speed held a noon briefing Tuesday on the transition to the next phase of vaccinations (DC has already effectively moved to its next phase but Azar’s briefing provided additional details and answered some questions left hanging out there by local officials.)
Azar said that the supply of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has expanded and that doses allocated exceed the demand for those in Phase 1 A – Long Term Care Residents, Healthcare Personnel (including Veterinary medicine), Fire & Emergency Medical Personnel, and Frontline Public Health Workers.
There are four components to the next phase:
- Expand groups eligible to include those most vulnerable – 65 plus or those under 65 with comorbidity. (DC has done this.)
- Expand channels for vaccinations to include pharmacies, community health centers and mass vaccination sites. (DC has done this.)
- Release of the entire vaccine supply rather than holding back doses for the second vaccination.
- HHS gives two weeks’ notice of allocation changes – from an allocation based on per capita to a model based on states’ pace of administering first doses and the size of 65 plus population. If states are not using the vaccine, allocation will be rebalanced to states that are using the vaccine.
With respect to whether distributing the entire supply as it becomes available could delay administering the second dose, Azar said that supplies would be distributed in a way that assures those eligible for a second dose would receive that dose before the vaccines available for eligible individuals to get the first dose. He said officials are not comfortable with extending the time frame after either the 21 or 28 day optimal time period for the second dose other than “a day or two on either side.”
Azar advised those at high risk who have been diagnosed with COVID to ask doctors for the widely available antibody therapies. Currently, 700,000 doses are being administered per day, and within 10 days that number will rise to one million.