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Feds asks states to speed up vaccinations by not holding back second vaccine dose

Virus Outbreak Massachusetts Vaccine
Posted at 7:55 AM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 12:39:50-05

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people older than 65 and others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, The Associated Press has learned.

During a press conference Tuesday, Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar said that in the unlikely event of a supply chain glitch of vaccine production, HHS will direct states to slow vaccine distribution to ensure everyone who had already received a shot still get a second dose.

The Trump administration is expected to recommend opening up vaccines to everyone older than 65 and to get the vaccines to more people by not holding back the second vaccine dose, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement.

States determine who should get the vaccine based on CDC guidelines.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Azar was critical of some states' distribution strategies, saying that states should begin expanding the vaccination pool beyond health care workers. He added states never needed to wait for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated before expanding the pool.

Should supply levels prevent some from receiving the second dose of a vaccine, there are studies that show that receiving a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — particularly Moderna's vaccine — promotes some immunity from the virus. However, the full effects of receiving a single dose have not been studied on a large scale.

So far, about 9 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. While that number has more than doubled since Jan. 4, it's still behind projections set by Operation Warp Speed late last year.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering