Oklahoma has not asked the government for new doses for more than a month, rejecting its allocation of 200,000 a week. Across the country, states are rushing to deplete doses before they expire this summer.
The United States faces a growing surplus of the coronavirus vaccine, looming expiration dates and stubbornly lagging demand at a time when the developing world is clamoring for doses to halt an increase in infections.
Million dollar prices, free beer and marijuana, raffled hunting rifles, and countless other gifts across the country have failed to significantly move the needle of vaccine vacillation, increasing the spectrum of new outbreaks.
Bookings are getting more and more overwhelming every week. Oklahoma has more than 700,000 doses on the shelves, but it is dispensing only 4,500 a day and has 27,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna that will expire at the end of the month.
Millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson nationwide were set to expire this month before the government extended their dates by six weeks, but some leaders acknowledge that it will be difficult to exhaust them even then.
“We really can’t let the doses expire. That would be a real outrage, given the need to get vaccines to some under-vaccinated communities in the US and the blatant gin vaccines and vaccine inequality that we have globally. “said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, president of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.
The United States averaged about 870,000 new injections per day at the end of last week, a sharp drop from a peak of about 3.3 million per day on average in mid-April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
President Joe Biden wants 70% of America’s adult population to be at least partially vaccinated by July 4. But the United States may not meet that goal. As of Friday, 64% of Americans 18 and older had received at least one dose, according to the CDC tally.
Some states, especially in the Northeast, have already reached that 70% goal for adults, while places like Mississippi and Alabama are now close. Mississippi, in fact, has been transferring large quantities of vaccine to other states and to the federal government.
Amid the glut, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June and also buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine and donate them to 92 low-income countries and the African Union during the next year.
With stronger demand in Maine and Rhode Island, the two states received 32,400 doses each from Mississippi, where only 35% of people received a first injection. Mississippi has also transferred 800,000 doses to a federal vaccine pool. The state has seen demand drop to December levels, with just 14,000 doses administered there this week.
Each week, states are assigned a number of doses from the government and allowed to order injections of that. But more states, including Oklahoma, Alabama, Utah, Delaware and New Hampshire, have stopped ordering new doses in recent weeks because they have such a large inventory. That has added to the growing federal reserve.
Those who skip the vaccine include Benjamin Schlink of Pearl, Mississippi, who said he believes he is healthy enough to fight the disease.
“The way I see it, I don’t worry about it, because God is in control,” he said. “If God wants you to have it, you will have it.”
Gayle Charnley, 69, said some of her small-town neighbors think she should get vaccinated, but she doesn’t plan on doing so. “They are just imposing them on people as quickly as they can, and we don’t know what the long-term effects will be,” he said.
Hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide with intense safety control and few serious risks have been identified.
Part of the slowdown in demand is a natural part of the implementation process. In Massachusetts, 68% of people are getting a first dose and mass vaccination sites are closing as officials move to harder-to-reach places like drug treatment centers.
Demand has been especially low for the J&J vaccine, an easy-to-store, single-use formulation that held great promise due to its convenience, but whose launch has been hampered by links to a rare blood clotting disorder and pollution problems in a Baltimore factory. .
Bibbins-Domingo said that with many parts of the world desperate for fixes, the United States has a moral obligation not to waste the J&J formula, which is especially useful in remote areas, among the homeless and in rural communities.
“At all costs, we must ensure that those doses reach the people who can use them.” she said.
In West Virginia, the demand for the J&J vaccine has almost completely dropped. About 42% of the total population has received at least one dose.
That’s despite a raffle that raffled off everything from cash to hunting rifles to pickup trucks. When Ohio kicked off a million-dollar prize giveaway trend a few weeks ago, officials saw a robust 43% increase in vaccine numbers, but only in the first week.
In North Carolina, $ 25 cash cards helped get people to vaccine clinics, but even so, the state is not ordering new doses from the government for the second week in a row.
Instead, the state has returned 1.2 million doses. In Tennessee, $ 2.4 million has been returned to the federal fund. It’s a disappointing development for William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
“If the governor is not making a passionate plea, and ours has not, then I look to local leaders of all kinds,” he said.
In Colorado, which has returned more than 175,000 to the federal fund, there is a million dollar lottery and drag queens have started calling people at clinics during Pride Month. In New Mexico, the nation’s largest lottery jackpot, $ 5 million, halted a downward trend in vaccines and may even have caused a slight improvement, officials said. Washington state allowed marijuana stores to offer free joints this week.
While the incentive programs may not have triggered vaccination rates, they remain a useful tool for states working the difficult “last mile” of a marathon, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Control Center. and Maine Disease Prevention and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
About a quarter of the hundreds of people who responded to the North Carolina cash card giveaway said it was key to their decision to get vaccinated that day.
“If states can prevent chains of transmission that would otherwise have brought people to ICU with a ventilator, missing weeks of work, keeping their family out of school, if we can avoid some of those incidents, then these programs will have paid off, “Shah said.
Several states do not order new vaccines from the government, including Alabama, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, and Oklahoma. Other states, like Iowa and Nevada, are still requesting new doses, but in dramatically reduced amounts.
Still, Shah said the nation’s launch of the vaccine is moving much faster than he expected, and welcomed efforts to expand distribution to distressed regions like Africa.
“One of the things that the pandemic has illustrated is that we are not safe, as a state, as a country, as a globe, until the whole world is safe,” he said. “We should do our part to vaccinate everyone in the world.”