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More proof that the COVID vaccine rollout is a complete mess

Published Jan 9th, 2021 10:33AM EST
Coronavirus vaccine
Image: Andrey Popov/Adobe

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  • Some people have found a way to get the coronavirus vaccine early, since the rollout of the vaccine is taking so long.
  • Because only a fraction of the expected vaccinations has been completed at this point, federal officials have said the states can give out vaccines that would otherwise expire on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Some people are hanging around vaccination sites like pharmacies at the end of the day, hoping to get a coronavirus vaccine dose that would otherwise be thrown away.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached such a dire stage in the US, that the incoming Biden administration has reportedly decided to take a dramatic step in response to it. Rather than continue the practice of the Trump administration, of holding back enough coronavirus vaccine to guarantee the second “booster” shot to everyone who got the first vaccine dose, the Biden team plans to just release as much coronavirus vaccine as possible to everyone. The thinking is that it doesn’t make sense, to use a military analogy, to worry about conserving ammunition in this war, at a time when more people than ever are dying from the COVID-19 virus.

That last part, by the way, is a reference to the fact that the US on Thursday once again broke a record in terms of the number of people who died in one day from the virus — more than 4,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. It makes the abysmally slow pace of the vaccine rollout so frustrating to watch, with Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker showing that only a little more than 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered so far (a fraction of the more than 21 million coronavirus cases that have been reported in the US during the pandemic, a number that probably undercounts the true number of cases). So having said all that, can you blame people for looking for workarounds, loopholes, and ways to skip the line to get a coronavirus vaccine early?

As we noted in a previous post, federal officials connected to the White House coronavirus task force as well as the Operation Warp Speed vaccine program have begun telling states, where vaccines might otherwise go to waste because of supply chain and other issues, to just go ahead and vaccinate people on a first-come, first-served basis, never mind whether it’s their turn yet. That’s according to a report from The Daily Beast, which notes that the issue here is the tendency of some of these vaccine doses to be in danger of expiring on the shelf before they’re able to be used.

This is the reason why there have begun to be scattered reports of people hanging around coronavirus vaccine sites like pharmacies at the end of the day. Because at that point, there is often an excess supply of the vaccine. Maybe somebody who was supposed to show up didn’t. But whatever the reason, these places can find themselves with vaccine supply that might expire and have to be thrown out, which is why some people are showing up and getting vaccinated by health workers who’d prefer not to throw any of their vials out.

Here’s an example: Andrew Masterson, co-owner of the local restaurant Captain’s Quarters in Louisville, Kentucky, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that this is how he and his wife (who’s undergoing cancer treatment) each got a Pfizer vaccine dose from Walgreens. “(A friend) called us, and we ran right up. It was pure luck.”

According to the newspaper, Walgreens has been contracted to supply vaccines to long-term care facilities in Kentucky, and on this particular day, “the amount of vaccine doses requested by facilities exceeded the actual need,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso told the Courier-Journal.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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