Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Local health officials are turning to online services like Eventbrite to improvise distribution schemes for the COVID-19 vaccine in the absence of federal support or a national plan.

Why it matters: Millions of lives, along with the country's economic recovery, depend on a speedy and successful rollout of the vaccine. But as people hunt for scarce information about vaccine availability and delivery processes, the lack of coordinated communication risks opening an information vacuum — into which misinformation could easily pour.

Driving the news: In Florida, a number of counties are using events platform Eventbrite, a platform known for selling concert tickets and coordinating happy hours, to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Be smart: Local governments, already stretched by the crisis and reeling from Congress's delays passing the latest COVID-19 relief bill, often lack the resources necessary to manage vaccine communication and coordination.

  • Many have looked for help from both online providers and pharmacies, which tend to have better access to consumer data and are able to deploy information in a quick, personalized manner.
  • Once people have gotten the first dose of Pfizer's two-dose vaccine, for example, pharmacies will be key players in helping make sure they take the second dose three weeks later.
  • "It is kind of falling on pharmacies," says Chris Haynes, a political science professor at the University of New Haven. "There hasn't been an app developed for federal or state governments to make sure the vaccine rollout was tracked. All of this stuff should've been planned months ago."

The big picture: Historically, the federal government has established systems to help local governments deploy emergency information, like tornado and hurricane warnings that are broadcast on local television, as well as localized text alerts.

  • But the government hasn't set up emergency communication systems to convey localized information about the vaccine, forcing citizens to turn to less reliable sources of information online.
  • "We're going to have to think through systems that will reach people when they need information that's highly specific — and in this case, time sensitive," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "We'll need to institutionalize that structure and keep track of it."
  • "The fact that we don't already have it is a real indictment," she told Axios. "We should've thought this through before."

What to watch: A lack of coordinated messaging around the vaccine rollout has left millions of people to search for answers online and via social media, opening space for confusion and misinformation.

  • Experts worry that big tech platforms, already reeling from election misinformation problems, are not equipped to help vet and verify vaccine rollout information.

Of note: Almost all of the experts Axios spoke to said that the best way to tackle this problem would be through a massive, federal government-backed awareness campaign educating consumers about the importance of getting a vaccine and directing them to some sort of a federal directory with links to verified local resources.

  • Since the U.S. has no centralized database with citizens' addresses and health records, that's likely the fastest thing the federal government can do to support local governments with the rollout at this point.

Our thought bubble: Developing a vaccine was a hard problem, but distributing it shouldn't have been in the same league, and the U.S. had months to prepare a plan.

What's next: The incoming Biden administration is promising a "whole of government response" after Jan. 20, per the Washington Post.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak.
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings.
  5. World: Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

The mad dash for COVID vaccines among Minnesota seniors

Data: Minnesota Department of Health; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Minnesota's system for scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for citizens 65 and older again saw extraordinary demand this week.

By the numbers: More than 226,000 seniors entered the lottery for one of just 9,425 doses available at state pilot sites this week, MDH told Axios.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.