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US vaccine surplus grows by the day as expiration dates shorten


In Tennessee and North Carolina, demand for a COVID-19 vaccine has slowed so much that they have given millions of doses back to the federal government, even though less than half of their total population has been vaccinated.

Mississippi, the state with the fewest vaccinations in the nation, is transferring inventory to Maine, which has the highest vaccination rates. Across the country, states are rushing to use the dose before the end of this summer’s period.

Stockpiles are getting more challenging every week. Oklahoma has 800,000 doses on its shelves, but it is administering only 4,500 per day and has 27,000 Pfizer and Modern doses that are due to expire at the end of the month.

Johnson & Johnson’s millions of doses nationwide were due to expire this month before the government extended their dates by six weeks, but some leaders acknowledged they would be difficult to access by then.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US averaged about 870,000 new injections per day at the end of last week, sharply down from an average high of about 3.3 million per day in mid-April.

President Joe Biden wants 70% of the adult US population to be partially vaccinated by at least July 4. But the US may fail to meet that goal. As of Friday, 64% of Americans age 18 and older had received at least one dose, according to the CDC’s count.

Some states, particularly in the Northeast, have already reached the 70% target for adults, while places like Mississippi and Alabama are nowhere.

Amid the crowd, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June and Pfizer also buys 500 million more doses of the vaccine and donates to 92 low-income countries and the African Union next year. does.

With demand strengthening in Maine and Rhode Island, both states received 32,400 doses from Mississippi, where just 35% of people received the first dose. Mississippi has returned an additional 800,000 doses to the federal government. The state has seen demand fall to December levels, with only 14,000 doses arranged this week.

Those leaving the vaccine included Benjamin Schlink of Pearl, Mississippi, who said he believed he was healthy enough to fight the disease.

“The way I see it, I don’t care about it, because God is in control,” he said. “If God wants you to have it, you will have it.”

Gail Charnley, 69, said some of her neighbors in the small town think she should get the shot, but she isn’t planning on it. “They’re just imposing them on people as fast as they can get them, and we don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be,” she said.

Millions of vaccine doses have been administered worldwide with intensive safety monitoring, and some serious risks have been identified.

Some reduction in demand is a natural part of the rollout process. In Massachusetts, 68% of people have their first dose and vaccination sites are largely closing as officials move to hard-to-reach places such as drug treatment centers.

Demand has been particularly low for J&J Vaccine, a one-shot, easy-to-store formula that held great promise because of its convenience, but whose rollout was due to a rare blood clotting disorder and contamination problems at a Baltimore factory. Cause hurt. .

Bibbins-Domingo said while many parts of the world are desperate for a dose, the US has a moral obligation not to ruin the J&K formula, which is particularly useful in remote areas, homeless and rural communities.

“At all costs, we need to make sure those doses get to the people who can use them.” he said.

In West Virginia, demand for the J&J vaccine has almost completely fallen. About 42% of the total population there have received at least one dose.

It’s a sweepstakes albeit off-putting on everything from cash to hunting rifles to pickup trucks. When Ohio kicked off the million-dollar prize drawing trend a few weeks ago, officials saw a massive 43% increase in vaccination numbers — but only for the first week.

In North Carolina, a $25 cash card helped get people to vaccine clinics, but even so, the state is ordering no new doses from the government for the second week in a row.

Instead, the state has refunded 1.2 million doses. In Tennessee, 2.4 million have been returned to the federal pool. That’s a disappointing development for William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s Medical School in Nashville.

“If the governor is not making an emotional argument – ​​and not ours – then I see all kinds of local leaders,” he said.

In Colorado, which has given more than 175,000 back to the federal pool, there is a million-dollar lottery, and drag queens have begun drawing people to clinics during Pride Month. In New Mexico, the country’s biggest lottery grand prize, $5 million, has halted a declining trend in vaccinations and may even see little improvement, officials said. Washington state this week allowed marijuana stores to offer free additions.

Dr. Nirav Shah, head of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and chairman of the National Institutes of Health, said that although the incentive programs have not increased vaccination rates, they are still helpful for states working through the tough “last mile” of marathons. are a valuable tool. Association of State and Territorial Health Officers.

Of the hundreds of people who responded to North Carolina’s cash-card giveaway, nearly one-quarter said that day was the key to their decision to get the shot.

“If states are able to stop the chain of transmission that otherwise leads to people in ICUs on ventilators, missing work weeks, keeping their families out of school, if we can avoid those incidents, So this program was worth it,” Shah said.

Many states, including Alabama, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah and Oklahoma, are not ordering new vaccines from the government. Other states, such as Iowa and Nevada, are still ordering new doses but in dramatically smaller quantities.

Still, Shah said the country’s vaccine rollout was proceeding much faster than he expected, and he welcomed efforts to expand distribution to hard-pressed regions such as Africa.

He said, “One of the things that the pandemic has portrayed is that we are not safe as a state, as a country, as a world, unless everywhere is safe. Ho.” “We must do our part to vaccinate everyone in the world.”

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Associated Press writers from across the country contributed to this report.

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