A group of US state governors asked President Joe Biden in a letter to decrease confusion caused by the government’s COVID-19 vaccine reporting.
As part of the National Governors Association Executive Committee, nine governors including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson, Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, Alabama’s Kay Ivey, Arizona’s Doug Ducey, New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, Colorado’s Jared Polis, and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer sent the letter to the president.
In the bipartisan letter, the governors told Biden that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus-vaccine tracking has created “unnecessary confusion” for people. The CDC’s tracker shows the number of vaccines distributed to each state and the number actually given to people, but that doesn’t “reflect the reality,” the governors wrote.
Instead, the federal government is distributing vaccines to states and territories through multiple different programs, such as a program for pharmacies to deliver vaccines to nursing homes and two new ones where select pharmacies and select federally qualified health centers administer vaccines. Those efforts, the governors noted, are “beyond the states’ control.”
Therefore, they said, “it is important that the CDC in its reporting distinguish between these separate efforts to avoid confusion and provide a clear understanding to the American people.”
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
“We are discussing these important issues around data and reporting with our nation’s governors on an ongoing basis,” a White House spokesperson told Insider. “Our strong partnership with states over the last several weeks is helping us vaccinate more people, and we look forward to continuing to be a strong, receptive federal partner as we work with the relevant stakeholders to improve our data and reporting. Our goal is to get more shots in the arms of Americans as equitably and efficiently as possible.”
Since two COVID-19 vaccines were approved in December, states have been tasked with creating a rollout plan. Some, such as North and South Dakota, have progressed more quickly, and others have struggled to keep up with the demand amid the continued pandemic.
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The governors also asked Biden to coordinate with states and territories on which pharmacies and federally qualified health centers to give vaccine doses to. States know where the vaccines are needed and understand how well-equipped some pharmacies and health centers are to distribute them. Without coordinating with states, the federal government could cause “redundancy and inefficiency,” the governors said.
On February 11, the administration began rolling out its new program, in which it aims to deliver 1 million vaccine doses to 6,500 pharmacies with the hopes of eventually expanding to 40,000 locations. Then on February 15, the government rolled out another program in which it will deliver vaccines to federally qualified health care centers, which generally provide care to underserved populations. The program will be open to one health center per state at first and then expand to 250 locations in coming weeks, according to the White House. People can receive the vaccine when it’s their turn for free at these locations.
So far, 38 million people in the US have received at least one shot of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines, according to CDC data. The administration has predicted the country could be headed toward herd immunity by summer to early fall.