Senate Democrats Name for Trump Repair “Failed” Rollout
A CVS pharmacist will deliver the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a resident at Emerald Court senior community in Anaheim, CA, Friday, January 8, 2021.
Paul Bersebach | MediaNews Group | Orange County Register via Getty Images
Senate Democrats on Monday asked the Trump administration to make changes to its strategy for introducing Covid-19 vaccines. They said they “failed” states by failing to provide detailed guidance on how to effectively distribute potentially life-saving doses to Americans across the country.
The US “cannot afford to have this vaccination campaign continue to be hampered by the lack of planning, communication and leadership we have seen so far,” Senate minority chairman Chuck Schumer and 44 other Democrats said in a letter to the minister for health and human services, Alex Azar dated Monday. “The metric that matters, and where we are clearly moving too slowly, is vaccines in weapons.”
“A vaccine that is listed on a table, or even a vaccine that is distributed and sitting on one self, is not enough to protect someone,” added the legislature.
HHS did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Trump administration officials have confirmed vaccine distribution has been slower than hoped, citing recent holidays as a possible factor. As of Monday morning, more than 25.4 million doses of vaccine had been distributed in the US, but just over 8.9 million vaccinations had been given, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is a far cry from the federal government’s goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 and 50 million Americans by the end of this month.
State and local health officials have said they are strapped for cash. They blame insufficient funding and inconsistent communication from the federal government for slowing down the number of doses being administered.
The American Hospital Association urges Azar to give more federal support and coordination to the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The slow rollout has raised questions about how quickly the public can be vaccinated.
Additionally, President-elect Joe Biden, due to be inaugurated in less than two weeks, criticized the introduction of the vaccine, currently saying, “It will be years, not months, for the American people to be vaccinated.”
US officials expect vaccinations to accelerate in the coming weeks. In an attempt to speed up the pace of vaccinations, the Commissioner of Azar and the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, last week urged states to start vaccinating lower priority groups against Covid-19. The CDC recommends giving priority to healthcare workers and nursing homes first, but states are free to distribute the vaccine at their discretion.
Hahn told reporters that states should give shots to groups that “make sense” such as the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, police, fire departments and other key workers.
“We heard in the press that some people said, ‘OK, I’m waiting for all of my healthcare workers to be vaccinated. We have a vaccine intake of around 35%.’ I think it makes sense to expand this to other groups, Hahn said on Friday at an event organized by the Alliance for Health Policy. “I would strongly encourage states to be more expansive about who they can give the vaccine to.”
Democrats said the Trump administration should issue a “Comprehensive National Plan” that would include guidelines on vaccine delivery and assisting states with supplies and manpower to manage gunshots.
“In the absence of this long-overdue national plan, it is even more important that the Trump administration actively engage in state planning efforts in the coming days, identify sales and administrative challenges, and proactively address issues that arise in partnership with jurisdictions,” he wrote Legislator.