States need more money, and they need it quickly, to help speed the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said Tuesday.
Changes in vaccine policy announced by the federal government earlier Tuesday will help, the group said. Operation Warp Speed said it would stop holding back half of the vaccine supply to ensure people get second doses. US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also urged states to start vaccinating everyone 65 and older, as well as people with underlying conditions. He also said states should start setting up mass vaccination sites and move out of hospitals alone.
Those announcements are an “important step,” IDSA said, but not enough. A new bill signed by President Trump late last month will get $8 billion to states for vaccine distribution – months after states asked for it.
“Although nearly half of the funding allocated in the recent spending bill has reached states, the remainder must be expeditiously distributed to states and local health departments in order to address obstacles such as limited staffing, supplies and space that preclude getting the vaccine to the people. The new Congress should stand ready to quickly consider additional funding as needs evolve,” IDSA president Dr. Barbara Alexander said.
“As vaccination across our country is accelerated, timely and adequate supply chains will be critical to evidence-based dosing. Federal authorities must be prepared to strengthen support for the manufacture of new doses to ensure the vaccine can be provided in accordance with emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Transparency and advance notice of vaccine supplies will be critical to planning,” she added.
And clear communication is key to making sure people understand and accept vaccine policies, she said.