WA officials ‘confused, frustrated’ after feds reveal vaccine stockpile has been exhausted
States were notified Thursday night that they will not be receiving increased vaccine shipments next week, after it was revealed that the federal reserve of doses has been exhausted.
State health officials across the United States had previously been assured by the Health and Human Services Department that the federal government was stockpiling a reserve of vaccines for second shots. But that was thrown into doubt over the last 24 hours, with leaders receiving notice from HHS that no such stockpile exists at this time.
“Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said. “I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration. I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.”
Gov. Brown described the situation as “a deception on a national scale,” a sentiment echoed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday.
The Washington Department of Health is currently working to “analyze this new information” to figure out how exactly it might affect the state’s own vaccine distribution plan. It plans to have more information “ASAP,” describing the situation as “confusing and frustrating.”
“Bottom line: We still don’t have enough #CovidVaccine for everyone who needs it,” the DOH tweeted Friday morning. “We are working to balance the available supply and distribute this vaccine in an equitable way.”
Leaders of Operation Warp Speed — the task force assembled by the Trump administration responsible for vaccine development and logistics — had originally planned to hold a stockpile of second doses “for potential disruptions in the manufacturing process that might have prevented first dose recipients from getting their second doses.”
That stockpile was then liquidated in late December and early January, thanks to “increased confidence in the manufacturing capabilities of both Pfizer and Moderna,” with no further efforts to backfill that inventory.
According to a report from The Washington Post, states will now receive a smaller than anticipated supply of vaccine doses in the weeks to come, with local officials saying “they are angry and bewildered by the shifting directions.”