U.S. health officials and state politicians are increasingly concerned that Donald Trump’s White House is not prepared to oversee and execute the deployment of a coronavirus vaccine.
Danielle Koeing told Reuters her requests for information from the federal government have gone unanswered since April.
“We haven’t heard from the federal government since April 23,” she said.
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On June 23, immunization experts sent a joint letter alongside state and local public health officials to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine research initiative, requesting advice.
Claire Hannan, Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers, represents one of the four organizations that signed the letter.
“We are urgently awaiting collaborative federal, state and local discussions to identify challenges and plan solutions. A vaccination campaign of this magnitude is unprecedented and it will take more than an army, ”Ms. Hannan said.
“More than an army” refers to Mr. Trump’s claim that the US military is being used to distribute vaccines.
The Trump administration insists the logistics to deploy a vaccine are already in place.
“We are all ready to walk on the vaccine… and the delivery system is ready. Logistically, we have a general who just delivers things, whether it’s soldiers or other items, ”Mr. Trump said.
“We are one step ahead of vaccines, one step ahead of therapeutics and when we have it we are all ready to use our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly.
Mr. Trump’s assurances do little to relieve state leaders left in the dark.
Not only are state leaders and health officials concerned about logistics, they also want to know who will get the vaccine first.
It is unlikely that there are enough vaccine doses available to inoculate the entire American population at one time. Decisions must be made about which populations will receive the vaccine first.
Even with an effective distribution plan in place, health officials fear that skeptical segments of the public may not be willing to take the vaccine once it is ready for use.
At a Senate hearing on July 2, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a public education program aimed at building confidence in the vaccine would be necessary before any successful deployment.
Roy Blunt, a Republican senator who chairs a group tasked with overseeing funding for health programs, is pushing for the CDC to lead future vaccine distribution efforts.
“This is the only federal agency with a proven track record in vaccine distribution and long-standing agreements with health services across the country,” Mr. Blunt said.