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COVID-19 vaccine rollout way behind federal government's prediction of 20-million doses

Posted at 6:10 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 19:10:38-05

MILWAUKEE — The federal government is way behind on it’s goal to vaccinate 20-million people by the end of the year.

Instead, the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed has only vaccinated about 2 million people. That is only 10-percent
of the goal, and that amount is worrisome to health leaders.


“I think we should be pretty concerned especially if we do the math. Right now, if we are at 2 million doses that have been vaccinated or given to people within two weeks. At that pace it will take us more than 10 years to reach 80-percent of all Americans that need to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Leana Wen, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“When we don’t meet those expectation the public and even myself I get angry, I say, well, if you promised us this number of vaccines, then why aren't we doing it,” said Ann Lewandowski, a program manager at Southern Wisconsin Immunization Consortium which is part of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.

COVID-19 vaccine
FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world’s first coronavirus shot that’s backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

Lewandowski is an immunization advocate and is helping lead COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Wisconsin. She says local health departments have already fallen behind on contract tracing COVID-19 because they don't have enough staff. Now, they are also being asked to get vaccines to people.

“There's not money or a supply of extra nurses to come in and do this in a sense what maybe we would think of as a traditional mass vaccination,” said Lewandowski.

She says the federal government needs to give additional support to those giving the shots at the local levels.

“We need that investment to train and hire additional staff,” said Lewandowski.

On top of that, Lewandowski points to the type of vaccine Wisconsin has received. Wisconsin has administered 47,157 COVID-19 doses. Of those vaccines 40,850 are the Pfizer vaccines, which require extremely cold storage and special handling. That can mean a slower distribution.

“If you've received this Pfizer shipper you're only allowed to open it twice a day for two minutes to take out this vaccine. And so then you have to administer these vaccines within six hours,” said Lewandowski. “And so I want the public to understand that they are doing their best, and it's not sitting in a freezer being forgotten about people are out doing this work as as quick as they can.”

Currently Wisconsin has only given out about 30-percent of the total number of vaccines it has received which includes the Moderna vaccine. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says the vaccine is shipped directly from the manufacturers to the state’s distribution points - health care providers and pharmacies. Those providers are the ones who administer the vaccine.

DHS Statement: "Vaccinating entities are doing everything they can to administer COVID-19 vaccine quickly while prioritizing safety. As efforts ramp up, we expect to see total doses administered keep pace with shipment."

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