States and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there.
NBC NEWS - Nationally, Pfizer and Moderna have signed contracts with the federal government to each provide 100 million vaccine doses by the end of March; Moderna is set to deliver a second tranche of 100 million doses by June. States were playing it safe last week, directing Pfizer vials mainly to facilities with ultra-cold freezers.
“A lot of that vaccine is destined for institutional facilities,” Sean Dickson, director of health policy for West Health Policy Center, said of the Pfizer shots. The center, with the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, found that 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines.
The analysis found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine. Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas face the longest drives, with more than 10 percent living more than 10 miles from the closest facility that could administer a shot.
Counties with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to be the hardest ones to reach,” said Inmaculada Hernandez, (HPM ’16) an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and lead author of the analysis.
Certain vaccines could be better suited for such places, including Johnson & Johnson’s potential offering, which is a single shot, and health departments could distribute in rural areas through mobile units, she said. The company is expected to apply for FDA emergency authorization in February, Operation Warp Speed chief scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui said this month.
Until then, Pfizer and Moderna are the companies supplying doses for the country, and they’re not considered equal even though each is more than 90 percent effective at reducing disease.
Read full story "Inside the chaotic first days of the effort to vaccinate America"