NEW YORK – The quest to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus is hitting the road: A number of states report that their vaccine is running out, and tens of thousands of people who have managed to meet for the first dose have seen it canceled.
The full explanation for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand was unclear, but last week the US Department of Health and Human Services suggested that countries had unrealistic expectations about how many vaccines were on the way.
The shortage comes as states drastically increase their vaccination guidelines, as instructed by the federal government, to reach people aged 65 and over, along with other groups considered significant or at high risk. More than 400,000 deaths in the United States have been blamed for the virus.
CORONAVIR AND DOUBLE MASKING: TWO FACE COATINGS BETTER THAN ONE?
First-grade teacher Karen Stahovyak spent nearly five hours on the New York State hotline and website arranging a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, only to be canceled. The Buffalo resident and her parents were among several thousand people with canceled meetings in Erie County due to supply problems.
About half of the 31 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been administered so far, although only about 2 million people have received the two doses needed for maximum protection against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
Countries in Europe also have trouble getting enough doses to provide protection against a virus that is now emerging in new, more contagious variants around the world.
Last week, Pfizer said it would temporarily cut supplies of its vaccine to Europe and Canada until it improved capacity at its plant in Belgium, which supplies all photos shipped outside the United States. In the United States, Pfizer has a plant in Michigan.
In the United States, some countries have suggested that they may be vaccinated by Thursday, and it is unclear when new doses will arrive.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city should cancel 23,000 meetings for people waiting for their first dose this week due to insufficient supplies. The mayor, who has been worried about the shortage of vaccines for days, said the situation is complicated by the delay in the delivery of Moderna vaccine to the city this week.
“So we already felt the stress of the vaccine shortage,” he said. “Now the situation has gotten even worse. At this point, we need to think differently.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said 103,400 doses of Moderna, which were scheduled for delivery on Tuesday – 54,200 first doses and 49,200 second doses, are now expected on Wednesday and Thursday.
Citing a shortage of vaccines across the country, the New York Police Department stopped vaccinations for the first time for its employees.
GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL WRITING SURGEON: “THIS IS A HONOR OF MY LIFE”
In Florida, local media reported a similar problem in the Miami area, where the Baptist health care system canceled appointments scheduled for the first doses.
“I could have blown the top of my head off with steam,” Charlotte Reeve, 76, told the Miami Herald. “I’m also a pretty recent widow. For me, having to be locked up alone in my house is just devastating to me. … I feel like I’ve just been cut off at the knees, again.”
The San Francisco health department said it was likely to run out of vaccines on Thursday, in part because the state dropped a batch of photos from Moderna after several health workers suffered what could have been a bad reaction. The county health department received 12,000 doses last week, but less than 2,000 this week.
West Virginia, which has run one of the country’s fastest vaccination campaigns, in part using small town pharmacies, said it did not receive the expected dose increase this week. With 99.6% of the first doses already administered, officials are urging the government to send more.
“We’re out of vaccines here,” said Republican Gov. Jim Justice, worried that other states have doses that remain unused. “We all have them in people’s hands and we did exactly what we had to do. … I think the performance should be rewarded.”
He said the state had not received the promised 25,000 additional doses this week in addition to its usual weekly distributions of about 23,000.
Hawaiian leaders have complained that the state received 59,000 doses last week, but expects only about 32,000 this week.
In New York State, Barbara Carr, a 72-year-old retiree in Buffalo, was devastated when her vaccine appointment for Thursday was canceled. But she quickly got another appointment at a local pharmacy and received her first dose on Tuesday.
CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
Now she is worried about her two children, who are teachers. Their meetings were canceled.
“They were unlucky with the planning, no phone calls, no communication except you,” Carr said. “Poor teachers. … I can stay home to hide from the virus. They can’t.”