January 11, 2021

States Are Making Changes To Vaccine Distribution Plans – Here’s How To Keep Up

As Axios reported last week, with supplies limited and some individuals in priority groups opting not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, several U.S. leaders and public health experts are rethinking strict prioritization for who should get the vaccine, instead suggesting that it might make more sense to simply try to administer as many doses as possible as quickly as possible.

Indeed, Stephen Hahn, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), last Friday urged states to allow lower-priority groups to get vaccinated if their doses would otherwise go to waste. Hahn told reporters he thinks that while the federal guidelines for vaccination, which recommend starting with health workers and nursing home residents and employees, make sense, he also believes “it’s reasonable” to expand vaccination to other high-need groups.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the same recommendation last week and it appears states are responding.

As a result, governors now are making adjustments in how the vaccines are allocated. According to The Associated Press, for example:

  • New York will now fine hospitals that do not run through their stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines quickly enough;
  • Maryland will reallocate future vaccine doses away from facilities that have not administered at least 75 percent of their first doses;
  • South Carolina has said healthcare workers who delay receiving their first dose will have to move to the back of the line; and
  • California could allow providers to vaccinate people who are not on the priority list if doses would otherwise go to waste.

In a free webinar offered to MSCI members last week, Dr. Mark McClellan, former administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a former FDA commissioner, urged leaders in the industrial metals industry to engage with their state and local lawmakers about vaccine distribution, and even to consider asking whether individual companies might be able to work with government officials to hold vaccination events. (MSCI members can find the webinar here.)

Wondering what your state’s plans are? The National Association of Wholesalers and Littler Law Firm are both keeping track of each state’s distribution system. Click here and here to access those resources.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers also have provided additional information on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Click here to view the U.S. Chamber’s information and click here to access the NAM information.

Other sources of information include:

  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) memorandum reaffirming that essential services will be considered in the determination of vaccine distribution, which is here;
  • CISA essential services resources, which are here;
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense report on how vaccines will be distributed;
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presentation describing the process they have followed in determining guidelines to states and localities; and
  • CDC’s “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, which is available here.