After months of planning, the US government’s “warp speed” rolled outvaccines have instead , threatens to prolong local lockdowns and increase the number of virus deaths in America.
Another month in the effort – the largest inoculation drive in U.S. history – some states are moving fast to vaccinate their populations, according to government data reviewed by CBS MoneyWatch. Other parts of the country are lagging behind.
West Virginia has distributed nearly 90% of its supply of the first vaccine shot and is expected to be made by inoculating a two-dose caregiver by the end of January. Firefighters, police and EMTs in the state ̵
Many other states are struggling to get their vaccination efforts off the ground. In total, less than one-third of all doses distributed throughout the country (and to US territories), or 10.3 million out of nearly 30 million are given to humans.
CBS MoneyWatch spoke with health experts, government officials and hospital administrators around the United States to find out what works – and does not work – in a hurry to vaccinate Americans against the deadly disease. Which states succeed in getting doses in the arms of their residents? Which states are still fighting? And why?
Here are some of the lessons learned so far in AmericaRoll out.
States that have fallen behind
Among the country’s most populous states, Georgia, Virginia and California are furthest behind in distributing the vaccine to residents. According to the latest CDC data, Georgia has administered less than 20% of the vaccine doses delivered to the state – the lowest percentage of any state in America.
Last week, Georgian Governor Brian Kemp opened vaccinations for residents aged 65 and over as well as for police and other first responders to speed up efforts beyond the original pool of health care and nursing home-targeted shots. For now, however, it is causing more problems. A state website scheduled vaccinations at 6 p.m. 4 or four hours before the Atlanta site offering shots was opened. Other vaccination planning sites have gone down.
Strict adherence to the CDC guidelines for the vaccination of health workers first seems to be one of the problems plaguing many backward states. For example, Virginia officials initially said the state would not move to the next stage of vaccinations until February. Although it has since moved up that date, Virginia still manages less than 25% of its vaccine supply.
California, which has administered only 26% of the vaccines in the state, also launched mass vaccination sites –– and this week opened vaccine eligibility for residents 65 and older.
Other bereaved states spent too much on untested distribution networks, experts said. Arkansas, as CDC data shows, has managed only 33% of its stockpiles, included more than 200 pharmacies in its original vaccination plans. It was a mistake, said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which operates hospitals and treatment centers around the state.
Officials in Arkansas and some other states dispute the CDC data. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, who heads the state’s immunization effort, said her state had received fewer doses than the health care system says and that they had administered 41% of the vaccine they had received Wednesday afternoon. Dillaha also said pharmacies have had delays, while noting that their inclusion is part of the state’s long-term plan.
“We want our immunization infrastructure to be stronger than after the pandemic,” Dillaha said.
States in front of the basket
Many public health experts warned beforethat rural areas in the United States would have a disadvantage over cities in the distribution of the vaccine. However, less populated states like North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia are among those doing a better job of vaccinating their residents.
West Virginia has distributed nearly 70% of all vaccine doses it has received from the federal government, according to the latest CDC data, ranked No. 1 among states ranked by this metric. About 110,000 vaccine doses have been given in Mountain State or nearly the same amount that has been administered so far in Wisconsin, which has roughly tripled the population.
The difference: West Virginia, unlike other states, relied heavily on its National Guard to lead other government agencies in vaccination efforts as well as to transport the doses where necessary. It was also the only state to opt out of a national vaccination program for nursing homes across the country, developed by the CDC and run by the pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens, which many have said is progressing slowly.
West Virginia has also vaccinated various vulnerable and important worker populations at the same time – such as residents over 70, police and firefighters as well as those working in key manufacturing sectors and are 50 years and older – rather than reserving all of its doses to healthcare professionals.
“We have taken 10,000 square meters of our National Guard headquarters and turned it into a command center with representatives from all levels of state government,” said Major General James Hoyer, who retired from the National Guard earlier this month but has remained a civilian to continue to direct West Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. “Young soldiers and pilots are distributing the vaccine across the state. We’re running this like a military convoy.”
South Dakota took a different approach. The state collaborated with its three main health networks, dividing the state and allowing the medical facilities to manage distributions alone, according to Dr. David Basel, head of vaccination efforts for Avera Medical, which is based in Sioux Falls and is one of three medical groups in the state who get vaccinated.
It seems to have worked. South Dakota has administered nearly 60% of the vaccine it was granted by the U.S. government. “Our biggest problem has been weather,” Basel said for a week as the state faced 20-degree temperatures and more than a snowfall. “One of our first shipments went out in a blizzard. A truck ended up in a ditch, but we got it out on time and no vaccine was spoiled.”
How each state is doing
The figures below are based on condition and CDC data per January 13th. Percentages represent the number of vaccines administered in relation to the number of doses each state has received. The US average was 35% from Wednesday. (In some cases, the latest CDC numbers may not include state or local data, which may be delayed for several days.)
|State / Territory / Federal Unit||% of the vaccine administered|
|The prison bureau||98%|
|Ministry of Defense||34%|
|District of Columbia||48%|
|Federated States of Micronesia||6%|
|Indian Health Service||26%|
|The Marshall Islands||5%|
|New York State||35%|
|The Northern Mariana Islands||22%|
|Republic of Palau||12%|