Federal funding for vaccine distribution 'needed six months ago,' public health experts say

Public health experts say billions of dollars in federal vaccine distribution funding is long overdue, according to a Dec. 5 The Hill report

At least $8.4 billion in funding is needed for state and local governments to effectively vaccinate their populations, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and Association of Immunization Managers told The Hill. So far, the newspaper said just $340 million has been set aside for agencies below the federal level to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

"You can't expect states to wait a couple of months to get funding, then in 24 hours begin vaccinating with it. It takes time,” Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told The Hill. "It's needed immediately. It was needed six months ago."

Operation Warp Speed, the White House's task force for COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, said it will ship out 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine within 24 hours of its anticipated emergency use authorization from the FDA. Healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff are expected to be vaccinated in the first round of distribution, but public health experts are worried states are grossly unprepared to execute following distribution rounds.

"Things could have been done earlier without having to reach this level of emergency,” Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told The Hill. "To not have put a single dime toward deployment of it is a real disservice."

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