A participant in a COVID-19 vaccine study is given a dose at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on Aug. 13. Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images
Friday was the deadline for states to submit their plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines, but they still don’t have the federal funds to help them do this, state health officials said Monday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to submit their plans by last week.
“We are currently unable to fund the upcoming implementation of the plan,” James Blumenstock, senior vice president of pandemic response and recovery for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), told reporters Monday.
He said the CDC had distributed $ 200 million to states for preparation and planning. “That would certainly not be enough for a campaign of this size and duration that we are thinking of,” said Blumenstock.
ASTHO has asked Congress for $ 8.4 billion to help states distribute and administer vaccines to people as they become available.
“Even if the money were used today, it would take some time for those funds to reach the jurisdictions that would need it,” said Blumenstock.
He compared the current response to the introduction of vaccines against the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. What has been provided now appears to be “absolutely inadequate” compared to what was provided then, he said.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said his state, and likely others, could likely begin vaccinating frontline workers as soon as a vaccine becomes available, as they will be in easily accessible places like hospitals and Clinics.
What will be more difficult, he said, will be reaching the people who are considered at high risk for serious complications from coronavirus and who are not on the front lines of medical and emergency responders, like people with underlying health conditions.
States will face significant difficulties distributing coronavirus vaccines, especially as some require special conditions for extremely cold handling. Keeping records will also be complicated as some vaccines require two doses. The vaccines made by different companies have very different formulations. So if more than one is approved, clinics must carefully record which vaccines patients receive so that they receive a second dose of the same brand of vaccine.