MADISON, Wisconsin – States asked the federal government this week to withhold staggering amounts of the Covid-19 vaccine amid falling demand for vaccines, contributing to a growing stockpile of doses in the United States.
From South Carolina to Washington, states are asking the Biden administration to send them only a fraction of what has been allocated to them. Refused vaccines represent hundreds of thousands of doses this week alone, providing a striking illustration of the vaccine reluctance problem in the United States.
More than 150 million Americans – about 57% of the adult population – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but government leaders from the Biden administration down to city and county level are doing all they can. they can to persuade the rest of the country to get vaccinated.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Friday that the federal government has spent $ 250 million on community organizations to promote vaccinations, make appointments and provide transportation.
He cited examples such as having conversations with small groups of people from minority communities in St. Louis and asking churches in Rhode Island to contact community members and offer them walks to vaccination sites. He also noted that an American Hindu world organization has turned temples into vaccination centers, making it easier for older members to get vaccinated in familiar surroundings. Indianapolis Motor Speedway has added a vaccination site where people can get their shots at a Formula 1 garage near the race tunnels.
The Biden administration announced this week that if states do not order all of their allocated vaccines, the administration will transfer the surplus to meet demand in other states.
In another sign of the burgeoning national surplus, Biden announced last week that his administration would share the entire national stockpile of AstraZeneca doses with the world once he completed the safety reviews.
The huge supply and diminishing demand have highlighted the vast inequalities during the pandemic, with countries like India blazing under a disastrous surge of the virus and other countries having no doses at all. At the same time, wealthy countries like the United States are inundated with vaccines and see cases and deaths plunge as a result.
The federal government allocates vaccines to each state based on the size of its population, and then it’s up to the states to decide how many doses they want to order each week. At first, states regularly asked for the full allowance – and called for more strokes – but now they’re cutting back.
Wisconsin officials requested just 8 percent of the 162,680 doses the federal government had reserved for the state next week. Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state’s health department, admitted earlier that demand is softening and vaccinators are cutting existing stocks before ordering more doses.
In Iowa, officials asked the federal government for 29% of the doses allocated to that state next week. Kansas officials requested less than 9% of their allocation of 162,000 doses last week. Counties refused doses as demand plummeted, leaving the state with a stockpile of nearly 647,000 doses.
Melaney Arnold, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the state has five weeks of doses. Last week, state officials for the first time requested fewer doses than allocated due to declining demand. The state plans to request just 9% of its allotted doses everywhere except Chicago for next week.
Connecticut has requested 26% of its allowance for next week. South Carolina plans to order 21% of its doses.
North Carolina reduced its request last week by 40%. Washington state also reduced its order by about 40% this week, the first time the state’s order was below its allocation.
Not everyone calls back. Maryland and Colorado still order their full amount. The same goes for New York City. The average number of daily vaccines in the country’s largest city has fallen by around 40% from its peak to more than 95,000 in mid-April, but city officials want a steady supply of doses to create more shots in doctors’ offices, neighborhood pharmacies and other small suppliers. , in the hope of appealing to those who have skipped mass vaccination sites.
“We have the demand to continue to use our supply efficiently,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Health experts have generally said that around 70 percent of the country’s population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. The Biden administration wants to get 70% of adult Americans vaccinated by July 4, but recognized the downward trend in vaccinations and the challenge of convincing people who doubt the vaccine’s effectiveness or simply don’t want to. not get vaccinated.
The president announced on Tuesday that federal officials would expand smaller, mobile vaccination clinics for hard-to-reach communities and encourage education campaigns. He also touted incentive programs, such as discounts for shoppers who get vaccinated at grocery stores.
Health officials in North Carolina are considering paying young people to be vaccinated. West Virginia has announced that people between the ages of 16 and 35 will be eligible for a $ 100 savings bond if they receive or have obtained the vaccine. Detroit officials launched a program Monday to pay people $ 50 for each inhabitant of the city that they sign up for a first dose and make an appointment.
Dr Joshua Sharfstein, associate dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins University, said he was not “desperate” in the face of slowing demand.
“Collective immunity is not necessarily a time when the music is playing and the sun is shining,” he said. “It’s about how easily the virus is spread in a community, and I think there’s a lot more to be done. People who think, ‘Well, we’re done with the big stadiums, so that’s it. , we are not going to vaccinate more people ”is wrong. You can vaccinate a lot of people if you do it right for them, if you send it to their doctor’s office, if you answer their questions. But it’s going to take a different kind of effort to achieve it. “