(NEXSTAR) – Despite national reports of a slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says there are no plans to alter the current tiered vaccination schedule.
The FDA said in a statement Monday that “at this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.”
“We know that some of these discussions about changing the dosing schedule or dose are based on a belief that changing the dose or dosing schedule can help get more vaccine to the public faster,” the statement continues. “However, making such changes that are not supported by adequate scientific evidence may ultimately be counterproductive to public health.”
The COVID vaccine is being administered in phases:
- 1a: Health care personnel and longterm care facility residents
- 1b: Frontline essential workers and people age 75 and over
- 1c: People ages 65 through 74 and those between the ages of 16 and 64 with underlying medical conditions, as well as other essential workers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to discuss a vaccine schedule beyond phase one. In October, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a framework that addresses future phases, but it has yet to be approved.
That framework sees teachers, school staff, food supply workers and incarcerated individuals in phase two, while phase three includes young adults, children and workers in industries “important to the functioning of society,” including hotels, restaurants, universities and factories. Phase four would include everyone who had yet to receive the vaccine.
It’s not clear when these potential phases would be rolled out, but one physician told Prevention that “it is unlikely that the general public will have access to the vaccine until late spring to summer of 2021.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that he was optimistic that “the glitches” in vaccine distribution “have been worked out.”
“Once you get rolling and get some momentum, I think we can achieve one million a day or even more,” Fauci said. He called President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days “a very realistic, important, achievable goal.”
According to the CDC, roughly 4.8 million doses of more than 17 million delivered had been used by Tuesday morning — likely an undercount due to delays in reporting but still far fewer than experts had hoped.
Still, Fauci pointed to a celebrated moment in history to back up his projection of ramped-up inoculations: In 1947, New York City vaccinated more than 6 million people against a smallpox outbreak in less than a month — and “one of them was me as a 6-year-old boy who got vaccinated.”
If a single city could do such mass vaccinations in weeks, “this is not something that is far-fetched” for an entire country, he said. “You can use school auditoriums, you can use stadiums. You can really ramp up the contribution of pharmacies.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- The Virginia Department of Health is reporting 1,477 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with 91 new deaths. The state's positivity rate remains at 6.3%.
- Many Virginians are anxiously awaiting their chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The best way to ensure the state knows you want your shot is to pre-register on the Vaccinate Virginia website.
- Some Virginia residents are raising concerns about COVID-19 vaccination scheduling. They told 8News, they're worried that there could be a potential to miss an opportunity for an appointment, as the Department of Health is reaching out through unknown numbers.
- Some New York lawmakers are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's impeachment after reports late Thursday that his top aides altered a state Health Department report to omit the true number of people killed by COVID-19 in the state's nursing homes.
- A total of 763,439 people have been fully vaccinated in Virginia. According to the most recent Census data, there are 8,535,519 people living in the state.
- Health experts are trying to determine how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is at stopping the spread of the virus.
- A family is grieving a loss as painful as it is surprising. They believe 48-year-old father Ben Price took his own life after developing a rare and little understood phenomenon called "COVID psychosis."
- The Crater Health District will now be holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Virginia State University. The first clinic will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the VSU Multi-Purpose Center.
- Some people are now scouring the internet on the hunt for vaccine events and possible extra doses. They then show up at local pharmacies hoping to score a shot.
- The report links obesity with a series of health complications related to COVID-19. It found that increased bodyweight "is the second greatest predictor of hospitalization and a high risk of death for people suffering from COVID-19."