US Lacks Firm Grasp on Vaccine Supply Numbers, CDC Director Says

Carolyn Crist

January 25, 2021

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don't know how many COVID-19 vaccine doses are available, which could become a major problem as governors and state health officials try to make vaccine plans this year, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, the new director of the CDC, told Fox News Sunday.

Walensky voiced her concerns that, after several weeks of planning and several days into the new Biden administration, CDC officials haven't received enough information to create a smooth transition process in vaccine distribution.

"I would say one of the biggest problems right now is that I can't tell you how much vaccine we have, and if I can't tell it to you, then I can't tell it to the governors, and I can't tell it to the state health officials," she said.

"If they don't know how much vaccine they're getting, not just this week but next week and the week after, they can't plan," she added. "They can't figure out how many sites to roll out, they can't figure out how many vaccinators that they need, and they can't figure out how many appointments to make for the public."

President Joe Biden has pledged to administer 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office. So far, the US has distributed 41.4 million doses, and 21.8 million have been administered, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Sunday. About 18.5 million people have received their first shot, and 3.2 million people have received the second shot in the two-dose regimens.

Vaccine supply will probably be the biggest barrier at the beginning of this year, Walensky told Fox News Sunday. Vaccine distribution should increase dramatically by late March, she said, but in coming weeks, CDC officials and state vaccine sites will be focused on fixing supply issues, having enough second doses, and ramping up the number of people who can administer vaccines.

"We have to go faster," she said. "We are really hoping that we'll have more vaccines and that will increase the pace at which we can do the vaccinations."

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