That is a good question as the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines continue their slow rollout. Shots have not been getting in arms as fast as expected. Alex M. Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services encouraged state governors to expedite uptake, if needed by expanding eligibility for the vaccines so that no doses go to waste during an Operation Warp Speed briefing, “States can … 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.”
Azar reiterated that the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have made recommendations with healthcare workers high on the list to get the vaccine but these are just recommendations. He stated it is up to the states how vaccines are delivered within the state. At this point it is more important to get vaccine into arms as soon as possible than to keep it locked up until the right candidates step up to get their shot.
“They should never stand in the way of getting shots in arms, instead of keeping vaccines in the freezer, or even, heaven forbid, wasting a dose of vaccine in a vial,” Azar said. “It’s more important to vaccinate. I have encouraged our governors, and I will continue to do so, that if they are using all of the vaccine, that is … allocated, ordered, distributed, shipped — and they’re getting it into healthcare provider’s arms, every bit of it, that’s great. But if for some reason their distribution is struggling, and they’re having vaccines sit in freezers, then by all means you ought to be opening up to people … 65 and over. You ought to be making sure that the nursing home patients are getting vaccinated.”
Another way to speed up vaccine delivery, Azar said, will be with the early launch of the federal “Pharmacy Partnership” program, which will eventually cover more than 40,000 pharmacy locations within 19 pharmacy chains and associations across the U.S. “This partnership allows states to allocate vaccines directly to these partners and these partners can then administer vaccines to particular groups, like those over a certain age or in certain occupations, and eventually to the general public,” Azar said. “To help give states as many options as possible for vaccine administration, we’re launching the program this week and states can choose particular partners to send vaccines to now.”
“Nearly 20 million doses of vaccine [have been] already delivered,” Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed said. “We have delivered that to over 13,000 different locations throughout the United States … simultaneously, fair and equitable distribution of vaccines so that everybody has the opportunity to distribute simultaneously to the American people. I would tell you that it’s going very well and our goal is to maintain the steady drumbeat so that the states have a cadence of allocation, planning and then the appropriate distribution to the right places, as designated.”
The Department of Defense has established a Population Schema which details at what phase you can receive the vaccine. There are two Phases and Phase one is broken into 3 subcategories. Basically 1a covers everyone involved in healthcare as well as the support care both military and civilian. 1b Critical National Capabilities and those about to deploy and DoD beneficiaries age 75 or older and essential workers. Phase 1c is DoD beneficiaries age 65-74 and those age 16 and older with increased risk for severe illness as well as essential workers not covered in previous phases. Lastly Phase 2 is everybody else age 16 and older.
Visit Health.Mil to get the latest update on getting the COVID-19 vaccine through the military healthcare system. Listed is all the sites that you can receive the vaccine once you are in the right phase. Different sites can be in different phases, so it is important to check locally to see what phases your area is in.
You may also have the option to get the vaccine through your state’s healthcare system. Visit the CDC’s website for more information. There are tools to search options through your state. Demand for exceeds supply at this point. The key to getting the shot is to keep up on the most current information.