Operation Warp Speed, the public-private body responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines issued new guidelines early this month. These guidelines encourage states to expand the reach of coronavirus vaccines by allowing adults over 65 years and adults with underlying health conditions to receive the vaccine.
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These guidelines will ensure that more people become eligible to receive the vaccine and may potentially expand the number of locations where people can receive it. When the vaccines were first rolled out, states were required to distribute them among health care workers, those over age 75, and front-line essential workers, such as firefighters, police officers, teachers, corrections officers, U.S. postal workers, public transit workers, and food supply workers.
Many states are still in this phase of the rollout. Though the guidelines issued by Operation Warp Speed are recommended, states are not required to follow them. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said that the recommendations should not be interpreted as regulation.
A recent statement by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention exposed that less than half of the 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine already delivered nationwide had been administered to Americans.
The two vaccines currently in use are from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech and are administered across two doses, three to four weeks apart. In the first phase of the rollout, Operation Warp Speed held back half of the doses to ensure that the second dose could be administered to recipients. The new administration under President-elect Joe Biden will release all available doses of the vaccines to the states while ensuring that the second dose is also made available.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is optimistic about the move to expand the scale of vaccine distribution and has predicted that as many as 1 million vaccines per day could be administered to Americans. Figures released by the World Health Organization confirm that the U.S. has had 23,344,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 389,084 deaths from January 3, 2021, to January 17, 2021.