The White House Is Warning About This Major Vaccine Mistake
One official says that this "should not happen" with the COVID vaccine.
The United States' COVID vaccine rollout has been less than perfect. While the federal government is distributing vaccines to the states, each state is responsible for how they administer the vaccine to the public. That has resulted in some questionable choices made in an attempt to smooth out the already chaotic vaccine rollout. And there's one major vaccine mistake that President Joe Biden's White House administration is especially worried about: providers holding back first vaccine doses. Read on to find out why this is happening, and for more vaccine news, If You're Over 65, You Shouldn't Get This New Vaccine, Experts Warn.
The White House is worried providers are holding back vaccines to reserve them for second doses.
The U.S. vaccination process is still facing numerous issues in states across the country, but White House COVID senior adviser Andy Slavitt is particularly concerned that some states seem to be reserving vaccines for second doses instead of giving out first doses.
"We believe that some healthcare providers are regularly holding back doses that are intended as first doses, and instead keeping them in reserve for second doses for patients," Slavitt explained during a Feb. 1 White House COVID Response Team briefing. "We want to be clear that we understand why healthcare providers have done that, but that it does not need to happen, and should not happen." And for more on why speed is of the essence when it comes to vaccination, This Is Exactly When We'll See the Next COVID Surge, Experts Warn.
Efforts are already underway to ensure states get the vaccines they need for second doses.
Some states were forced to cancel vaccine appointments in recent weeks when their supplies ran short. Slavitt said that while this was a "direct result of the lack of predictability many states and providers have had regarding how many doses that they would receive," states should not worry or change their processes—and that means not holding back first doses.
On Jan. 26, the White House announced that they would providing states with "a reliable three-week supply look-ahead," which will give an ongoing estimate on how many vaccines each state will receive for the upcoming three weeks, as opposed to the one week look-ahead they had previously been given.
"With this action, states and vaccine providers will more rapidly use their first doses to vaccinate as many people as quickly and as equitably as possible, because they now have the predictability that the second dose will be there when the time comes," Slavitt explained. And for more vaccine guidance, If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.
The rate of vaccine doses being administered is already slowly increasing.
Slavitt said that they "expect the efficiency of doses being administered will steadily improve" over the upcoming weeks. "On Jan. 20, states had administered 46 percent of their inventory. Today, that number is 62 percent. We are focused on this every hour of every day," he explained.
Alongside the three-week supply estimates, the Biden-Harris Administration also pledged to increase the overall weekly vaccine supply to states. The administration is increasing the supply by 1.4 million doses per week to "allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated," they said. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Second doses can be delayed, but it isn't recommended.
If push comes to shove, second doses of the COVID vaccine can be delayed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days after the first, and 28 days after the first for the Moderna vaccine. But the CDC updated its guidelines on Jan. 21 to say that "if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval," second doses could be scheduled for up to 42 days after the first. Regardless, delaying is not recommended. Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said that "until we have further data," people should try to get their second vaccine dose as close to the recommended time as possible.
"You're taking a chance. The data from the clinical trials showed that in the Moderna trial, you should get the boost 28 days after the prime, that's what I got, I got it exactly 28 days later—when you're dealing with Pfizer it's 21, that's where the data show is the optimal effect," White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, told CNN on Jan. 21. He also noted that it may turn out the delay is "not going to be a big deal," but it's impossible to know for sure because no trials have been conducted on the extended time internal. And for more vaccine news, Dr. Fauci Says These 2 Side Effects Mean Your COVID Vaccine Is Working.