U.S. won't hold back second Covid vaccine doses: health secretary

Henrietta Brewer
January 13, 2021

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the policy shift on Tuesday. "Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied".

Azar said the federal government would now be recommending that states begin to widen the criteria for who gets vaccinated, starting with people over 65 without health conditions and people under 65 with health conditions. "We've had so much success with quality and predictable manufacturing and nearly flawless distribution of the vaccine, but we have seen now that the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused", he said on "Good Morning America". Operation Warp Speed has been holding back half of the doses in an effort to make sure recipients could receive their second dose.

Last week, President-elect Joseph Biden announced his administration planned to release all available doses of coronavirus vaccines to the states. Members of the Trump administration criticized that plan, with Azar saying it would jeopardize the "system that manages the flow, to maximize the number of first doses, but knowing there will be a second dose available, the New York Times reported".

"We typically look for at least 70% or upwards of 90% of the population having received a vaccine before we can really say heard immunity takes full effect", said Robert Hawkes, the director of the physician assistant program at Florida Gulf Coast University. Of the more than 25 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine that have been delivered nationwide, just under 9 million shots had been administered as of Tuesday, according to the CDC.

It's also unclear how long is too long to wait for a second dose.

Other reports by iNewsToday