US speeding up vaccine distribution with key changes to strategy


Saying states have been too narrowly focused in doling out vaccines, the Trump administration is now urging them to speed up distribution to the elderly and stop holding back doses for the second shot.

The administration is updating its guidance to expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older and younger people with health issues, saying the focus on healthcare workers and long term care facilities has slowed down the process. The administration also said it will no longer hold doses in reserve for the second round of shots - effectively doubling the immediate supply - and is urging states to do the same.

This new directive comes after President-elect Joe Biden said he planned to release all doses when he takes office in order to get them distributed faster.

Releasing all available doses as soon as possible could mean that people have to wait longer than the recommended 21 days for the second Pfizer shot or 28 for Moderna.

"However, the CDC says that if you do get delayed for some reason and you have to get the second shot way further down than that specific time limit, you should go ahead and get the second shot. No need to repeat," said Dr. Roshni Mathew, infectious disease expert at Stanford.

The impact of delaying the second dose has not been studied.

In California, the state is receiving doses faster than it can give them out, with less than one million of the state’s nearly three million doses administered as of Sunday, although some of those doses are being held back for the second shot.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday officials are working to speed up the pace and hope to administer one million more doses by the week’s end.

People 65 and older fall under the second tier of California’s "Phase 1B," which also includes teachers, first responders and essential workers. Bay Area officials do not expect to start vaccinating people in that group until early February.

That is why mass vaccination sites are expected to open this week at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in LA.

Locally, the San Francisco 49ers sent a letter to Santa Clara County offering up Levi's Stadium and the Coliseum Authority is expected to vote this week on opening up a drive through site in the Oakland A's parking lot. The Giants are also reportedly in talks to use Oracle Park as a potential site.