Feds making vaccine stockpile available to states

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Donald Trump

FILE – In this Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference in the briefing room at the White House in Washington. A federal judge in Maryland has denied the Trump administration’s request to reinstate a rule that would require women to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that public health risks for patients only have grown worse. In March, dozens of anti-abortion advocates signed a letter to Azar in which they called for halting abortion procedures during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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BOSTON (SHNS) – The federal government will open up access to every COVID-19 vaccine dose it has on hand rather than keep some as a backup, aiming to accelerate distribution of the crucial immunization after an initial rollout that has been uneven.

In an interview on Good Morning America, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said states have been “too narrowly focused” on vaccine administration so far, prompting federal leaders to make every vaccine dose available.

“We had been holding back second doses as a safety stock, but we now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production, so everything is now available for our states and our health care providers,” Azar said.

The United States government will also formally recommend that states prioritize vaccinating adults aged 65 and older and those under 65 with an underlying health issue that puts them at higher risk for COVID-19, Azar said, calling as a third step for directing vaccine doses to more pharmacies, community health centers and other locations that can help administer it.

“It has been overly hospitalized so far in too many states,” he said. “We have the vaccine. The demand is there. We need to get these orders. We have supplies that have not yet been ordered of the vaccine.”

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