In a statement, a federal health department spokesman said nearly 13 million doses were given to states to order their first and second doses, “millions more” than in the past few weeks. The spokesman, Michael Pratt, also said that many states have not ordered up to the full amount allocated by the federal government.
“I think states have done their best to plan with whatever information they can get from the government about the expected future allocations and then revise those plans as they get less,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, the Chief Medical Officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “Even more worrying is that public expectations have increased and limited supply can lead to significant disappointment.”
During the first few weeks of distribution, General Gustave F. Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, decided the federal effort to develop a vaccine and distribute it to the American public to withhold half of the weekly vaccine shipments from keeping those doses for the save People who received a first shot. He said at the time that it was important to be careful when manufacturing started and to keep a stock of second cans in case of manufacturing errors.
Even then, his decision was criticized by public health experts who argued that the focus should be on giving as many people as possible their first dose of vaccine – as clinical studies have shown that even the first dose offers some protection – as the country this was record cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
But federal officials stuck to their plan, and over the weeks that supply gradually ran out as those who received the first Pfizer shots needed their second dose, which is given three weeks later. The first people to receive the Moderna vaccine must now receive their booster shot, which is given four weeks later.
Senior administration officials said Friday that the remaining second doses from this reserve will be distributed to states this week and next week and that they should never be used to vaccinate additional people.
From now on, authorities said Tuesday, every weekly shipment from manufacturers will include doses for new people as well as second doses for those due for their booster vaccinations.