States still have no idea how they’re going to pay for coronavirus vaccine distribution, despite filing plans last week, state officials said Monday.
Friday was the deadline for states to submit their plans to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they still don’t have the needed federal money to help carry them out, officials said.
“As it stands now, we do not have any capability to fund the imminent implementation of the plan,” James Blumenstock, senior vice president for pandemic response and recovery at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told reporters Monday.
The CDC distributed $200 million to states for preparedness and planning, Blumenstock said, which “certainly would not be sufficient at all for a campaign of this magnitude and duration.”
The association has asked Congress for $8.4 billion to help states distribute and administer vaccines to people once they became available.
“Even if the money was appropriated today, it would take time for those funds to reach the jurisdictions that in turn would need it,” Blumenstock said.
The funding for vaccines isn’t the only problem. Health officials are also having to deal with a very skeptical public. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday it may be a challenge to get people to take the vaccine.
“It would be a terrible shame if we have – and I think we will have – a safe and effective vaccine but we’re not able to widely distribute it to those who need it,” Fauci said in a virtual event for the National Academy of Medicine on Monday.
People at the highest risk of Covid-19 should get a vaccine once one is shown to be safe and effective, whereas healthy young people could possibly consider waiting for another vaccine, Fauci told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Monday.
The vaccine dilemma comes as Covid-19 cases continue to soar across the country. The next few months will be the “darkest of the pandemic,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
As of Monday, there were more than 8.2 million cases and 220,088 coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Osterholm highlighted the 70,000 cases of Covid-19 reported on Friday, which matched the largest number seen in the peak of the pandemic. Between now and the holidays, the US will see numbers “much, much larger than even the 67 to 75,000 cases,” he said.