USA to expand coronavirus vaccination eligibility

A screen capture of HHS Secretary Alex Azar during an Operation Warp Speed press conference

Overall, there has now been a total of 2,130 cases (confirmed and probable) with 1,797 recoveries and 29 deaths. This accounts for 1.93 percent of the county population.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday that states' COVID-19 vaccine distribution will soon undergo major changes, including expanding the vaccination pool to people with underlying health conditions and people 65 and older.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday sought permission from the Trump administration to directly purchase 100,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use.

Public health experts have said that no U.S. state, including NY, has so far come close to using up its federal allotments of vaccines, a much slower than expected roll-out blamed in part on rigid rules limiting who can be inoculated. Federal and state officials say there is a lag in reporting.

For Indonesia to vaccinate two-thirds of its population, 181.5 million people, to reach herd immunity, Sadikin said the two-shot vaccine would require nearly 427 million doses, including the estimate that 15% may be wasted. Both those shots require two doses to achieve optimum protection.

The move to increase the supply of vaccines better aligns the outgoing administration with the new Biden-Harris team. Just over 7,000 have gotten their second dose.

In upending the prioritization schedule, Azar has pushed to the front of the line people he wanted to see there in the first place. One of the issues impeding the speed of the rollout is the guidelines on who can get the vaccine and when issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Monday morning, the government had distributed about 25.5 million doses to states, US territories and major cities. As of Tuesday, about 27.7 million doses had been distributed, and more than 9.3 million people had received their first shots.

"By all means, don't waste vaccine", Ghaly urged.

Initially, the shots were going to health care workers and nursing home residents. ACIP envisioned front-line essential workers and adults 75 and older being included in the second phase of the vaccine rollout. All 70% of the world's people must be vaccinated for that to be achieved. Some hospital and nursing home workers have been hesitant to get the vaccine. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis opened up vaccinations to people 65 and older.

The vaccinations have yet to make a dent in the health crisis, as the pandemic claimed on average about 3,200 lives nationwide each day over the last week.

Although Azar said the shift in strategy was a natural evolution of the Trump administration's efforts, as recently as Friday he had raised questions about whether Biden's call to accelerate supplies was prudent.

He also said he'd spoken to Senate leaders about splitting time between approving key Cabinet nominations for his new administration and proceeding with an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.

"We know that the cold-chain distribution is not complete".

And, at a press conference last week, Brazilian researchers reported the vaccine made by Sinovac was safe and had 78% efficacy in preventing mild cases of COVID-19 in a study of more than 12,000 health care workers. More than 376,000 people in the USA have died, according to the Johns Hopkins database. Officials in Brazil said details would be published after Brazil's health regulatory agency approves the vaccine.

"This vaccine is given to achieve herd immunity".

Biden got his first shot on December 21.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said hundreds of thousands of people are getting vaccinated every day across the nation, but the pace of inoculations needs to improve. State and local public health authorities will have to junk some plans and draft others.

"Based on the science and evidence we have, it is imperative that people receive their second doses on time.ignoring that [science] would be reckless", Azar said. "We need to be bold and we need to respond with renewed urgency".

"We don't want to unfairly create the expectation that someone can walk in and get a vaccine today when in reality we don't have enough supply for almost 200 million people", the official said.

US President-elect Joe Biden is considering releasing to states more vaccine doses that the federal government had stockpiled, in an effort to ensure enough supply for a required second dose.

Azar said they'll brief the Biden transition team on the changes, but didn't seek their blessing.



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