According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump's outgoing administration has -- to date -- shared very little information with the individual states on when they can expect the coming COVID-19 vaccines, how to distribute them and how they should prioritize who should receive them.
With the president barely involved with the White House task force whose job it is to stem the rising tide of coronavirus infections, states looking for guidance are coming up empty-handed.
The report notes that there has been an agreement that frontline workers -- 21 million health care workers in all -- involved with dealing with COVID-19 victims should be at the front of the line, but after that the federal government is leaving the hard decisions about how to proceed to the states.
"There is no consensus about how to balance the needs of other high-risk groups, including the 53 million adults aged 65 or older, 87 million essential workers and more than 100 million people with medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to the virus," the report states, adding, "The Trump administration has told states that they have ultimate authority for determining who gets vaccinated first. It has also decided to allocate scarce early doses based on states’ total populations, forcing hard choices in states with a greater proportion of residents at high risk — including Black, Indigenous and Latino communities that have suffered disproportionate rates of hospitalization and death from Covid-19."
According to Politico's report, the lack of details that could be shared with the public could cause panic when the vaccines are released.
“States are going to have to pick and choose who gets the first doses,” explained Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, before adding, "It’s very obvious that states are in different places when it comes to planning and identifying who those people are.”
Noting that time is tight as the pandemic rapidly spreading, the report points out that the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention normally lays out the guidelines for who should get priority for each vaccine, based on recommendations from a group of experts known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices," but is running behind with a meeting scheduled this week.
At the state level, "looming questions include whether the vaccine should be disbursed equitably to each county based on their population or to places in the state with high infection rates," the report states with University of California at Berkeley epidemiologist Arthur Reingold saying states will have to be quick and "nimble' when it comes to making decisions.
Michaud of the Kaiser Family Foundation predicted an "uneven rollout" to the states and worries that could undermine the public's already shakey confidence in the government's competence.
“This is all going to be very messy," Michaud explained. "There’s no question that plans on paper are one thing, but putting it into practice and getting vaccines into the arms of people is a whole different ballgame. It’s going to be a Herculean task.”
You can read more here.