State officials continue to bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Azar, who serves as Health and Human Services Secretary, announced earlier this week that the federal government would be releasing its reserve of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. “Because we now have a consistent pace of production, we can now ship all of the doses that had been held in physical reserve,” Azar said in a briefing on Tuesday.
But according to the Washington Post, no reserve existed despite Trump officials repeatedly telling state governments otherwise. Since both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, the federal policy relied on the reserves to ensure people were able to receive their second dose in case of manufacturing issues.
Instead, the Post reports that the Trump administration began shipping those second doses back in December, and there are no additional doses of either vaccine that can be allocated.
“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 tweeted.
Brown, along with several other state officials openly criticized the Trump administration's "deception" after learning that they would not be receiving a surplus of doses, which they had hoped would expand access for elderly and high-risk folks who are eagerly awaiting the vaccine.
Those scheduled for their second dose will still be receiving them, but the expansion of access to the vaccine is likely to slow even further as state health officials face a more limited supply than anticipated.
“This is appalling. Minnesotans are sick of false promises from the Trump Administration,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted. “After promising a surge of doses, the Administration is now pulling out the rug from under our seniors, teachers, and every Minnesotan eagerly awaiting the vaccine.”