The change, reported earlier Tuesday by the Washington Post, makes little difference to some states like Virginia that have steadily reduced as many doses as the federal government was willing to ship. But it might help some states that are able to use more doses than the federal government has allocated them based on their population. They will now be allowed to request up to 50% more doses than the government has allocated them.
Until now, White House officials have been unwilling to shift doses to states that were quicker to administer them, fearing that rural areas or underserved communities would be lost to urban areas or richer where residents were more willing to get vaccinated.
But with the pace of vaccination slowing across the country, officials have determined that releasing unused doses week after week will not exacerbate equity concerns. Some state officials have been advocating for change for weeks.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that the move gave governors more flexibility.
“Even just a few weeks ago, we were in a different phase of our immunization effort, when supplies were more limited and states, for the most part, were ordering at or near their total allocation,” a- she declared.
Virginia is a good example. Last week, for the first time, the state did not order all the doses it could have, said Dr Danny Avula, the national vaccine coordinator.
“Supply exceeds demand statewide, and the work will be much slower and more difficult as we find ways to vaccinate a few people at a time.” he said. But releasing excessive doses “will be very useful for the handful of states that still have localized areas of high demand,” he said.