Dec 18, 2020 - Health

Governors complain of COVID-19 vaccine cutback

Mike Allen
Screenshot of "The Rachel Maddow Show" showing several headlines about the coronavirus vaccine in different states
Screenshot: "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC

Hospitals around the country have been thrown into confusion after the Trump administration informed state after state that they'll be getting 25%-40% fewer COVID vaccine doses next week than they'd been expecting.

Why it matters: The snafu reveals communication gaps between the Trump administration and Pfizer, and between the administration and the states.

What's happening: A senior administration official told me that the states had been relying on planning numbers that were reduced because Pfizer committed to supplying fewer doses than originally forecast.

  • Pfizer said in a statement that it is "not having any production issues."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night showed a parade of nearly identical headlines from Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington State.

  • In a Seattle Times story with the headline, "Washington to receive 40% fewer COVID-19 vaccines next week," Cassie Sauer, president of the Washington State Hospital Association, said: "Everyone wanted to cry or take a shot of tequila or something."

Pfizer said in the statement: "[N]o shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed. This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them."

  • "We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.

The senior administration official said that if Pfizer has more doses available for release in the U.S. than have been accounted for — i.e., being held for second shots and as safety stock — "the government ... wants to know immediately.”

Go deeper