Biden to send unused vaccines to states where demand still outpacing supplies in major distribution revamp

The Biden administration has revealed it will now alter how it distributes Covid-19 vaccines by instead prioritising states showing high interest in the jabs over ones with a lower demand.

Each state’s share of the US population has determined how many vaccine doses they are allocated week to week by the federal government.

This process would still remain, the White House said, but unordered doses from states will no longer carry over week to week. Instead, the federal government will distribute those doses to other areas showing higher demand for the vaccines.

The change away from determining vaccine distribution on population alone comes as demand for the vaccine has diminished across the country, with many who want the jab already receiving it or in the process of making an appointment.

State governors were informed by the Biden administration in a Tuesday morning phone call about the vaccine distribution change, The Washington Post reports.

But they were assured that vaccine doses would still be available to them if demand were to increase.

“It gives flexibility week to week,” said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, during the Tuesday press briefing, adding that the change showed the US was in a different phase of vaccine rollout from previous weeks. 

In recent weeks, a number of states have left large quantities of vaccine doses on the shelves instead of distributing to residents due to a diminished demand for the jabs.

At least 22 states did not order all of the vaccine doses made available for them for the week of 3 May due to having enough supply to manage the demand, CBS News reports. In Arkansas, no new vaccine doses were ordered for the first time since the mass vaccination campaign started in December, citing an overwhelming supply.

More than 147 million Americans, or 44.4 per cent, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and over 105 people, or 31.8 per cent, were fully vaccinated against the novel virus, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At the peak of the vaccine distribution, the country was administering more than 3 million vaccine doses per day. But the seven-day average of daily shots administered has dropped by 17 per cent over the last week and 33 per cent since 13 April, according to The Washington Post.

Health and local officials would now face the challenge of encouraging those who haven’t recieved a Covid-19 vaccine to want one in the coming weeks as demand continues to decline.

The Biden administration was using vaccination messaging led by faith leaders and other local heads in communities as a way to attract more people towards receiving a Covid-19 vaccine if they’re more hesitant about the jab.

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