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Millions of COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be used since first US distribution

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

Over 9 million COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be administered in the U.S. since they were initially distributed on Dec. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 12,409,050 doses of the vaccines that have been distributed, only 2,794,588 have been administered as of Wednesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Federal officials wanted to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020, though the CDC reports that only 2.8 million have received a COVID-19 vaccination, according to The New York Times.

“We are far, far behind where we need to be,” New York City Health Committee Chairman Mark Levine said, the New York Post reported. “We should be vaccinating 400,000 people a week.”

New York state has received 682,425 doses of the vaccines and administered 140,676, according to the CDC.

The federal government tasked the states and U.S. territories to establish a distribution plan and issued an interim playbook containing possible plans and information requests, according to the CDC. The playbook assumed distribution would develop over three phases, the first aimed at prioritizing certain groups like health care workers and high-risk individuals.

The state of California developed an exhaustive tier system to administer its first doses of the vaccine, assuming they wouldn’t receive enough to vaccinate all health care workers and long-term care residents, according to the AARP. California has received nearly 1.5 million doses of the vaccines and had administered 294,281 as of Wednesday, according to the CDC data.

Similarly, in Florida, only 176,729 of the state’s 783,600 vaccinations have been administered, according to the CDC. However, demand for the vaccines is high, and older individuals sat in lawnchairs overnight waiting to receive a dose, the New York Times reported.

Every state formed a task force or planning committee to make a plan according to the CDC’s playbook, though some states moved through the process faster than others, KFF reported.

States reported relying on the federal government for queues on how to prioritize who would receive the first doses of the vaccines, KFF reported. Every state included high-risk individuals and health care and essential workers as high-priority to receive the vaccines.

Overall, states planned on not having enough doses to completely vaccinate everyone in their defined high-priority groups, KFF reported.

South Dakota and West Virginia have administered the most of their doses compared to other states, according to the CDC. Georgia and Kansas have each given fewer than 15% of their vaccinations.

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