Access to Covid-19 vaccinations should be extended by states to those 65 and older, as well as any adult with an underlying health condition that may increase the likelihood of Covid-19 complications, suggested Tuesday by Operation Warp Speed participants.
"Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a media briefing Tuesday, where he and other administration officials announced the recommendations.
The 2nd source of COVID-19 vaccines was confirmed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that people 65 and older and those with weakened immune systems are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For COVID-19, it extended the list for the second time in a week.
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The move adds an extra 1.8 million individuals to the registry, only including those in the extended age group, under revised federal guidelines, increasing the number of those eligible to schedule vaccines to more than 7 million state residents, Cuomo said.
The guidelines are meant to promote quicker delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines by making more people available for vaccination immediately, as well as widening the possible places where it can be accessed by people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the more than 25 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine that were distributed nationally, just under 9 million shots were put into the arms of Americans as of Tuesday.
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In the first recommended phases of the rollout, most states are also seeking to get the vaccine to those: health care employees, those over 75, and front-line essential workers, such as firefighters and police officers, as well as teachers, correctional officers, U.S. postal workers, public transportation workers, and those whose jobs are critical to the food supply.
Two major improvements to the federal government's COVID-19 vaccines delivery schedule were announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday. States are also directed to vaccinate comorbidities for those 65 or older, as well as those under 65, and the government will also issue a wide supply of doses it had withheld to ensure that their second dose was received by vaccinated Americans.
As a result, he said, the Trump administration is now asking states to vaccinate individuals 65 years of age and older and those under 65 with existing health problems that place them at high risk. He said the development of the vaccine is such that for those who received the first injection, the second dose of the two-shot vaccine can be released without jeopardizing immunization.
The new efforts were lauded by Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore. "These are exactly the right steps that we need at this point to better align supply and demand," Wen said.
President-elect Joseph Biden announced last week that his administration was preparing to release to the states all available doses of COVID-19 vaccines.