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Here Are the Biggest Hurdles for COVID Vaccinations

By Keith Speights - Jan 23, 2021 at 8:15AM

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Some issues have been resolved, but others persist.

Pfizer's (PFE 0.52%) and Moderna's (MRNA 3.78%) COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out -- but not as smoothly as hoped. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Jan. 13, 2021, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and writer Keith Speights discuss the biggest hurdles for COVID-19 vaccinations so far.

Corinne Cardina: We're starting to see the vaccination be expanded beyond that initial priority group, which was healthcare workers and long term care residents and staff. The CDC has expanded their guidance to now include people who are 65 and older. That is a big change. There's been a couple of other changes that we'll get into.

But let's talk about the disconnect, in what is being called the last mile of vaccinations. Doses are being distributed, it's a challenge to get them into arms. What are some of the hurdles involved here? Of course, the government has said there's a lag in the data. That is one inherent problem with those distribution vaccination numbers we have. But what's the actual logistical hurdles?

Keith Speights: Some of the hurdles I think are now in the rearview mirror. For example, during the month of December, early January, we had two significant holidays. You had a lot of healthcare workers taking vacations. There weren't as many workers available to administer the doses and not as many people lining up to get the doses during the holidays like that. That's one of the factors that's caused the numbers to not grow as much as we would have liked.

But the bigger issue, really, I think there are two big issues. One is just lack of coordination between the federal government and the states. There's been not a great hand-off during the federal government and the different state governments. Then there's just a money issue, Corinne, where quite a few states and local health officials are just saying, we don't have enough money to do all we need to do. That's certainly an issue and certainly a challenge for the states that are trying to get these vaccines out to their residents.

Corinne Cardina: Definitely. Another question has been at what point do you move off that first priority list and begin vaccinating people in maybe tier-2. Last week Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Azar and FDA Commissioner Dr. Hahn, they told states to start expanding vaccines to the lower priority groups instead of waiting to get most frontline healthcare workers vaccinated. Some states were holding off. Maybe they only had 30 percent of that group vaccinated and trying to get more. They're saying, let's go ahead and open up those appointments and try to get more people in different groups vaccinated rather than waiting.

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Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
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Moderna, Inc.
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