Multiple Senators demand administration address COVID-19 vaccine distribution issues

Multiple Senators demand administration address COVID-19 vaccine distribution issues
In the letter, the Senators call out the administration’s failure to develop and implement a comprehensive national vaccine plan, despite having months to do so. (Source: WVIR)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFVS) - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and their Democratic Senate colleagues in writing to Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Alex Azar demanding the Trump administration take immediate action to fix shortcomings of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution as coronavirus cases continue to climb.

In the letter, the Senators call out the administration’s failure to develop and implement a comprehensive national vaccine plan, despite having months to do so.

“Despite months to plan, the Trump Administration has failed to meet these needs or deliver promised doses to jurisdictions, and as a result of this lack of planning, only 36 percent of distributed vaccines have been administered,” the Senators wrote. “We hope the recently announced efforts to scale up vaccinations in pharmacies will help to turn this tide but it is clear much more is needed. States, Tribes, and localities, providers, and the public are being left without federal support or clear, complete information about what to expect in the future as nearly 300,000 Americans fall ill daily from this virus.”

For months, Senate Democrats have been imploring the Trump administration to work and communicate with state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, vaccine and PPE manufacturers, public health experts and healthcare providers to develop a plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

These groups have been pleading for clear guidance and financial resources.

A comprehensive national plan should:

  • include robust guidance for states, Tribes, localities and health care providers including on personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, vaccine administration prioritization, and best practices for taking the vaccine from distribution to administration;
  • specify how the Federal government will support these entities with funding, supplies, information, and personnel—which thus far the Trump Administration has failed to do; and
  • account for the significant challenges jurisdictions face in scaling up their workforces while continuing other lifesaving public health work, which may include providing increased support for mass vaccination clinics and mobile testing units, as well as supplementing the vaccination workforce including vaccinators, logistical support, and more.

The Senators underscore that a plan must include guidance and best practices on taking the vaccine from distribution to administration, provide all necessary resources to state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments and other jurisdictions, account for the significant challenges jurisdictions face in scaling up their workforces, and act to ensure vaccine distribution efforts also combat health inequities.

The administration must also launch a massive public facing campaign to promote vaccine confidence and help people understand where, when and how to get vaccinated.

In the coming weeks, the Senators emphasize that the Trump administration must engage with states to proactively identify and address challenges to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are quickly and equitably distributed and administered across the country.

A full copy of the letter is available here.

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