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A healthcare worker hands Patrick Range, Sr., 88, a vaccination card after giving him the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Americans received just over 3 million initial doses of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech in the 19 days following first shipments, according to a Bloomberg tally of government websites and CDC data.

Why it matters: It's far below Operation Warp Speed's goal of administering 20 million doses by the end of the year, raising concerns about how long it may be until enough people are vaccinated in the U.S. for life to return to normal.

What's happening: Federal officials say that 14 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been distributed in the U.S. as of Wednesday morning, but that delays in actually administering the shots have occurred in the final stretch of the process, the New York Times reports.

  • Some clinics administering vaccines are on reduced holiday hours, while federal officials have left practical details of the final rollout "to overstretched local health officials and hospitals," per the Times.
  • Some governors have also said they have not received enough funding from the federal government to support the infrastructure needed for a mass rollout.
  • Operation Warp Speed officials said at a Wednesday press briefing that they expect the vaccination process to accelerate once pharmacies offer in-store shots.

By the numbers: 0.9% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated, while just 25% of the shots distributed to states thus far have been administered, according to Bloomberg's count (last updated Dec. 31 at 11:30am).

  • Data reported to the CDC on doses administered "significantly lags," a Health and Human Services spokesperson tweeted Tuesday, citing "a large difference between the number of doses distributed and the number of doses administered."

What they're saying: Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on Thursday that the coronavirus vaccine "could be a tool to help reduce the impact of current wave of epidemic spread; but we’re largely missing the narrow window we had to deploy it rapidly enough to alter the present trajectory of death and disease in January."

  • Gottlieb added that the highly infectious new variant of COVID discovered in the U.K. and reported in two U.S. states this week "makes this more urgent."
  • Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, told the Times: "We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for ... We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better.”
  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday that U.S. vaccination rates are "certainly are not at the numbers we wanted to be at the end of December" — but that he believes momentum will increase in January.

Between the lines: The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines both require a two-dose regimen. Pfizer warned in a statement this week that there are "no data" to prove that one dose of its vaccine will protect people from infection after 21 days, after the U.K. and some Canadian provinces shifted their strategy to prioritize giving as many single-doses as possible.

What to watch: Joe Biden aims to use the Defense Production Act to administer 100 million vaccine shots by May 1.

Go deeper: Coronavirus vaccine timelines vary widely around the world

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2021 - Health

CDC issues urgent advisory calling on pregnant people to get COVID vaccine

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The CDC issued "an urgent health advisory" on Wednesday urging people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The CDC said it "strongly recommends" vaccination because its benefits for a pregnant person and the fetus outweigh the risks. It added that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at "increased risk" of outcomes such as preterm birth, stillbirth and admission of a newborn into the ICU.

AT&T mandates COVID vaccination for most unionized workers

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

AT&T expanded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate Wednesday to employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

Why it matters: The communications giant is one of the biggest employers in the U.S. to require frontline workers to be vaccinated against the virus. The union said it represents some 90,000 AT&T workers, per AP.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.