Only half of Covid-19 vaccines delivered to states have been used, CDC data shows. Here's one reason why

A possible explanation is emerging for why federal data shows only about half of the vaccine supply delivered in the US has been administered.The nati...

Posted: Jan 28, 2021 1:12 PM

A possible explanation is emerging for why federal data shows only about half of the vaccine supply delivered in the US has been administered.

The nation's vaccine distribution figures have baffled observers for weeks, with states claiming they need more vaccine when the data indicates they still have many doses on hand.

Health officials for President Joe Biden sought to explain on Wednesday, at least in part.

Speaking at a media briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said not all vaccine that's been delivered to states is available for "inserting into people's arms."

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients took that explanation a step further.

"Some of what the states have right now is inventory to do the very, very important second shot," Zients said. "I think it's important that when you're looking at state's inventories that you recognize that some of that inventory is being held for the very important second shot."

Walensky, when asked by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday if it is the right approach for states to hold onto Covid-19 vaccine that is intended for second doses, declined to directly answer the question.

An administration official on Wednesday told CNN states should not be holding back second doses and that is not the Biden administration's guidance.

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines currently available for emergency use in the US require two doses. A federal dashboard tracks the nation's distribution of these vaccines. The data shows how many doses of vaccine have been delivered to each state, but it does not differentiate between first and second doses.

Consider Florida, where the federal data on Wednesday showed about 3.1 million doses had been delivered and about 1.6 million had been administered. That's roughly 50% of the doses going into arms.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki used similar figures to suggest that Florida had a good deal of vaccine, after Florida governor Ron DeSantis claimed the state wasn't getting enough supply from the federal government and needed more.

"I will note, because we're data-first here, facts-first, they've only distributed about 50% of the vaccines they've been given in Florida," Psaki said. "So, clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine."

On Wednesday, DeSantis pushed back against those comments from the White House, explaining the federal data didn't account for vaccine earmarked for second doses.

"When the person at the White House says that Florida has all these doses, those are second doses," DeSantis said.

Other states also say part of their vaccine inventory is intended for second shots.

"When a first dose comes, you can just go ahead and give it to someone. When a second doses comes, it needs to be 21 days later for Pfizer or 28 days later for Moderna," Kristen Ehresmann, the director of Minnesota's Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, said in an email to CNN. "So yes, we get this vaccine and then give it at the appropriate interval and it can look like we are 'sitting on doses' when that is not the case."

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has started to express the state's vaccine distribution figures in terms of first and second doses, announcing Wednesday that 96% of the state's allocated first doses have been administered, excluding the federal long-term care facility vaccination program with CVS and Walgreens.

On Tuesday, Cuomo said his state was "basically out of vaccine," but that same day New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had also complained about being short on vaccine, said the city did have doses intended for second shots in its inventory.

"I've got a hundred thousand second doses," de Blasio told MSNBC.

De Blasio went on to say the doses were "sitting on a shelf" and "can't be used for weeks." He said President Biden should order governments across the country to take second doses in their inventory and use them right now for first doses.

"Even a first dose gives folks about 50% protection," he said.

Cuomo said on Tuesday second doses aren't being distributed as first doses due to uncertainty over how quickly additional doses of vaccine can be made.

"The fear is, until you really know what the production schedule is, if you start using the second dose as the first dose, you have to have a dramatically increased supply otherwise you're going to leave people without a second dose when their appointment is due," said Cuomo.

It's unclear how many states have an inventory of second doses, or how many states may be handling distribution of second doses differently. The White House and the Health and Human Services Department did not immediately respond to CNN's inquiries for additional details.

In Maryland, the state is not holding onto any reserve doses in its warehouses aside from doses to be administered that week, according to Charles Gischlar of the state's department of health. Gischalar says Maryland has requested the federal government automatically distribute second doses to providers who were provided with first doses.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2109677

Reported Deaths: 53558
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings28056310454
Queens2772449955
Suffolk2010083400
Nassau1836243175
Bronx1834576588
New York1382444499
Westchester1296572290
Erie895721806
Richmond749601841
Monroe689591110
Orange48308843
Rockland46936963
Onondaga38928677
Dutchess29470445
Albany24696356
Oneida22614514
Niagara20033372
Broome18619366
Saratoga15362168
Ulster13907257
Schenectady13200205
Rensselaer11228142
Putnam1060592
Chautauqua8951145
Chemung7759136
Oswego762292
Ontario740593
Steuben6952144
Sullivan667276
St. Lawrence663796
Cayuga633792
Jefferson613168
Wayne578270
Cattaraugus572091
Genesee5435124
Herkimer5186109
Clinton483533
Madison456289
Livingston452060
Fulton442191
Tompkins434652
Montgomery4254126
Columbia4064104
Cortland392562
Tioga382963
Warren365857
Wyoming358153
Allegany355587
Chenango349876
Otsego346147
Greene340379
Washington316155
Orleans311883
Lewis280836
Franklin256312
Delaware237938
Seneca201156
Schoharie169217
Essex159326
Yates117826
Schuyler107414
Hamilton3132
Unassigned9211
Out of NY0249
Utica
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Oneonta
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 60°
Herkimer
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 62°
Old Forge
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 62°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Enchanted Forest Water Safari Summer Fun Giveaway
Father's Day Giveaway 2021
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
18 Facets of Summer Photo Contest brought to you by Herkimer Diamond Mines
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Alivana Ready for Summer Giveaway
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve