6 reasons COVID-19 vaccine rollout is going slower than expected

Officials at Operation Warp Speed, the federal government's task force to rapidly deploy COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, have acknowledged the country's effort to inoculate front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff has gotten off to a slower start than they expected, according to a Dec. 31 New York Times report.

As of Jan. 2, the CDC reported that about 4.2 million of the more than 13 million vaccine doses distributed to states have been administered. However, this is likely an underestimate of the actual number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the country due to lags in data reporting, according to NYT.

Below are six reasons the COVID-19 vaccine rollout process is going slower than expected:

  1. Logistics have been left up to overwhelmed hospitals and local health agencies. Operation Warp Speed officials say that the task force's responsibilities are expediting COVID-19 vaccine development and ensuring they are shipped to states once they gain FDA emergency use authorization, according to NYT. Plans for administering the vaccine to front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff have been left to hospitals and local health agencies, which are overstretched as they handle COVID-19 surges.

  2. Data reporting discrepancies. There are significant lags in the reporting for the number of doses allocated, shipped and injected. Operation Warp Speed spokesperson told the NYT the task force is "working to make those lags as small as possible."

  3. Short notice for available doses. Hospitals and health departments often receive just a few days' notice for vaccine shipments, meaning they have to scramble to contact people eligible to receive the vaccine and organize staffing for those administering the vaccine, NYT reported.

  4. Lack of immediacy in funding. The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 27 allocates more than $8 billion for vaccine distribution. Before that, states were relying on the $340 million the CDC sent out in September and December, according to NYT.

  5. Hesitancy among those offered the vaccine. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Dec. 30 that about 60 percent of the state's nursing home staff who were offered the vaccine refused it.

  6. The holiday season. The holidays have slowed the vaccine rollout, as many healthcare workers eligible to receive the vaccine in their workplace worked reduced hours.
 

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