Azar Says States Can Begin Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines To Other Groups.
Fox News (1/7, Rivas) reports, “Amid criticism of a growing number of unused coronavirus vaccines sitting on shelves nationwide, a top federal official said Wednesday states should vaccinate older, vulnerable Americans.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, “States can also accelerate vaccine administration by moving on to providing vaccinations to broader populations right now. ... There is no reason that states need to complete, say, vaccinating all health care providers before opening up vaccinations to older Americans or other especially vulnerable populations.” Although a CDC panel recommended “prioritizing front-line medical workers and long-term care facilities first, states ultimately decide who should be first in line for vaccines.”
CDC: Florida Among States That Have Delivered Fewer Than One Fourth Of Their COVID-19 Vaccines.
CNN (1/7, Holcombe) reports that Florida “has put state health centers in charge of rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, and with some opting for less organized plans, it’s left seniors to deal with crashing websites, jammed phone lines and nights spent waiting in line.” As of Tuesday, “about 19 million doses had been distributed nationally and 4.8 million administered, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Florida “is among 12 states that have administered fewer than a quarter of their vaccines.”
Some Nebraskans 75 And Older Already Getting Vaccine Shots; State Says Online Registration To Launch Soon.
The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star (1/7, Olberding) reports, “While people age 75 and older in eastern Nebraska continue to wait and wonder when the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to them, areas of outstate Nebraska already have started vaccinating people in that group.” Myra Stoney, “health director for the Southwest Nebraska Department of Public Health based in McCook, said it started vaccinating people in the 75-plus age group this week.” Stoney “said vaccinations for those in the state’s designated Phase 1A group – health care workers and residents of long-term care centers – are mostly complete in her district.”
Meanwhile, the AP (1/7, Funk) reports that Nebraskans “who want to register for a coronavirus vaccination should be able to do so online or by phone soon, state officials said Thursday.” Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services “said they plan to launch their new registration website in about two weeks and a telephone hotline in roughly 10 days.” The system “will allow people to register for a vaccine even if they aren’t eligible right away, said Angie Ling, the department’s incident commander for the pandemic.”
The Omaha (NE) World-Herald (1/7, Anderson) also reports.
West Virginia Now Administering Second COVID-19 Vaccine Doses.
NPR (1/7, Noguchi) reports, “Having delivered vaccine to health workers and completed a first-round of shots at all its long-term care facilities, the state [of West Virginia] is now administering second doses and moving on to other populations, including people age 80 and over, and teachers who are 50 and older.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said that “states eager to speed up the process should take note of the gubernatorial leadership in states like West Virginia and Connecticut that are doing well.” Parkinson added, “What I would be doing if I was governor is I would be on speed dial with the CEOs of CVS and Walgreens every single day.”
Seniors In New York City Will Have Opportunity To Pre-Register For COVID-19 Vaccines.
The New York Post (1/6, Hicks) reports “senior citizens in New York” City “will soon be allowed to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to speed up the process – once state officials OK the jabs for their priority group.” New York “City Hall announced the signup program for those 75 and older Wednesday as Mayor Bill de Blasio again pressed state officials to expand the eligibility criteria for vaccines to include those seniors and vast swaths of the municipal workforce.”
Idaho Man Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging State’s Vaccination Plans.
The AP (1/6, Ridler) reports, “An 87-year-old south-central Idaho man has filed a federal lawsuit against Republican Gov. Brad Little and the state’s health department seeking to force the state to put people 65 and over at the front of the line for the coronavirus vaccination.” Richard Byrd of Rogerson “in the lawsuit filed Monday said it’s a life-and-death issue for older people who tend to die at much higher rates than younger people if they get COVID-19.”
Illinois Governor Says State Residents 65 And Older Will Get Access To COVID Vaccines.
The AP (1/6, Tareen) reports that Illinois “will make COVID-19 vaccinations available to residents age 65 and older in the next inoculation phase, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday as the state neared 1 million infections.” The age “is lower than a government advisory panel’s recommendation of 75 and older.” Pritzker “said it was lowered in Illinois to make distribution more equitable, citing data showing elderly Black and Latino residents die younger from COVID-19.”
The AP (1/6, Willingham) reports that Mississippi residents 75 and older “are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Mississippi health officials say they are looking to ramp up distribution as quickly and safely as possible as cases and virus-related deaths continue to reach peak levels in the state.” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said at a Wednesday news briefing: “We know that people in this group are at the highest risk for severe illness, for hospitalization and also for death, and it’s very important that we offer it to those folks.”
The AP (1/6) reports, “Everyone over 70 years old and anyone over 50 who lives in a multigenerational household will be the next priorities for COVID-19 vaccines in Washington state, health officials said Wednesday.” Newly installed Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah “told an online media briefing that the state remains in the first phase of vaccination distribution, with high-risk health-care workers, first responders and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line.” But he “said that within two or three weeks the state should be able to move to Phase B1, which will focus on all residents over 70 and those over 50 who live in multigenerational households.”
Michigan To Begin Vaccinating Seniors, Frontline Workers Next Week.
The AP (1/6, Eggert) reports that Michigan “will begin issuing coronavirus vaccines to seniors and front-line workers such as teachers and police next week, state officials said Wednesday while announcing accelerated access for people who are at least 65 years old.” The state “had planned to next immunize people 75 and older and essential workers including first responders, prison guards and child care providers. But residents age 65 to 74 will be included, too.”
The Detroit Free Press (1/6, Boucher, Shamus) also reports.
Alaska To Begin Administering COVID-19 Vaccines To Those Over 65 Next Week.
The AP (1/6) reports, “Alaska residents 65 and over will be able to start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations next week, health officials said.” The Department of Health and Social Services “announced that people in that age group can start scheduling appointments Wednesday on the state’s vaccine website, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.”
CDC Says Allergic Reactions To COVID Vaccines Remain Rare.
The Washington Post (1/6, Achenbach) reports, “Allergic reactions to coronavirus vaccinations remain rare and should not dissuade Americans from being vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said” in a study Wednesday. Of “1.9 million people who received a shot during the first two weeks of vaccination, 21 experienced severe allergic reactions,” the study found, and “most of those people had a history of allergic reactions.” As a result of the low number of instances, the risk of severe illness or death from COVID “far outweighs that of a potential allergic reaction, CDC officials said.”
USA Today (1/6, Rodriguez) reports that in early data, the CDC “detected 21 cases of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Nancy Messonnier, MD said there were 21 cases out of 1,893,360 doses administered between December 14 and December 23, meaning there were 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per 1 million vaccinations. Dr. Messonnier said while this is a higher rate of anaphylaxis than is typical with the flu vaccine, 1.3 cases per 1 million doses, the rate for the coronavirus vaccine means it is still considered a rare outcome.
Reuters (1/6, Mishra, Steenhuysen) reports the CDC also reported a single case of anaphylaxis in an individual who received Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. The agency said it will continue carefully monitoring allergic reactions to the coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
HHS Allocating $22B To States To Aid In COVID-19 Testing, Vaccine Distribution.
Bloomberg Law (1/6, Stein, Subscription Publication) reports that on Wednesday, HHS announced “states will receive an infusion of $22 billion in the coming weeks to get the Covid-19 vaccine to more people and improve testing.” Approximately “$19 billion will be awarded for testing, contact tracing, and other actions to stymie the spread of the virus, according to the HHS.” The remaining “$3 billion will be awarded to get the Covid-19 vaccine distributed.”