USA widens vaccination eligibility as COVID-19 deaths mount

Modesto Morganelli
Gennaio 13, 2021

But only about 9.3 million people had received their first shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's online tracker.

If states follow Azar's instructions, a 24-year-old smoker who works from home would have the same vaccine priority status as a frail 85-year-old - and would be ahead of non-smoking teachers, municipal bus drivers, meat packing plant employees, and other front-line essential workers whom the CDC had previously recommended should be vaccinated in Phase 1b.

Still in its early days, the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program is already beset with challenges, including providing timely access to vaccines to swaths of the population who need it most.

He said the federal government "will deploy teams to support states doing mass vaccination efforts if they wish to do so".

US President-elect Joe Biden is considering releasing to states more vaccine doses that the federal government had stockpiled, in an effort to ensure enough supply for a required second dose.

The pace of vaccinations has risen to 700,000 per day nationwide and was expected hit 1 million per day within 10 days, officials said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will purchase an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Canada's slow vaccination rollout has been labelled "embarrassing", by public health experts, and initial concerns that the provinces would run out of available vaccine doses motivated the government to look at how far apart each vaccine's second booster dose could be taken from the first.

As of Monday night, the United States has reported a total of 22.5 million coronavirus infections and 376,188 deaths during the pandemic. Almost 130,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 at midnight on Monday.

A Reuters tally has shown that the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization may have leveled off, at least temporarily, although public health officials warn that further spread may still be seen from holiday gatherings.

Not all US governors welcomed the Azar's direction to widen the group of Americans eligible for vaccines.

"If we can do it even quicker than that, that would be great news".

"The policy and the intelligence of the federal system eludes me", Cuomo told a news briefing.

It's unclear how long it will take before people can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine once it's approved.

The CDC last week made clear that states can move on to the next priority group - people older than 75 and essential workers - without finishing the first round of inoculations, but fewer than 20 states have done so.

This will attempt to address a reoccurring issue states have faced in trying to administer the vaccine through hospitals and medical providers that have said they don't have the resources or personnel to serve as vaccination clinics.

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