Change in Policy: Vaccines for Everyone Over 65

National strategy for vaccine distribution is modified.

From the NY Times:

Vaccines for everyone over 65

In an attempt to speed up the sluggish pace of the U.S. vaccination campaign, the Trump administration changed course today and instructed states to immediately begin vaccinating Americans over 65, as well as adults with conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
Health Secretary Alex Azar said that states would lose shots if they don’t quickly give out doses, and that starting in two weeks, how much a state receives will be based on the size of its population aged 65 and older.

Currently, vaccines are largely being distributed to frontline health workers and older people in nursing homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the next group include “frontline” workers who cannot work from home.
But some states, including Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, decided to vaccinate people 65 and older before most essential workers, and other states are following suit. Florida is already inoculating people 65 and older, which has led to overwhelming demand, long lines and confusion over how to get a shot.

As for those with pre-existing conditions, Mr. Azar said they would need to provide “some form of medical documentation, as defined by governors,” but he did not elaborate. Millions of Americans have conditions that the C.D.C. has determined increase the risk of severe Covid, starting with obesity, which affects at least 40 percent of adults.

The administration also announced today that it would release all available doses of the vaccine, which mirrors a proposal by President-elect Joe Biden, who will release his vaccination plan on Thursday. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses, 21 days and 28 days apart respectively, and the Trump administration had been holding back roughly half of its vaccine supply to guarantee second doses for those who had gotten the first. Mr. Azar said the administration always expected to make the shift when it was confident in the vaccine supply chain.

Some health workers and researchers worry that releasing the shots could lead to the delay of second doses, and there’s no good data on how much protection the vaccines offer if the second shot is postponed.

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.