Story at a glance

  • A new vaccine distribution method lets state governors change their vaccine dose allocations on a weekly basis.
  • Unused vaccine doses will be relegated to a federal stockpile for other states whose demands outstrip their supply.
  • This comes as vaccination rates across the country have fallen.

The Biden administration handed down a strict mandate to states who have yet to go through all of their vaccine supplies: use it, or give it up to other states.

This comes ahead of President Biden’s speech on COVID-19 scheduled for this afternoon. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during a briefing on Tuesday that more than 29 million vaccine doses have been distributed across states, with two-thirds of the supply headed to jurisdictions and the remaining one third to a federal channel.

The Washington Post first reported that Biden along with U.S. COVID-19 advisor Jeff Zients told states on Tuesday that states who do not fill their vaccine allocation will surrender it to other states via a federal bank.

Allocations to individual states are determined by population metrics. 

Psaki confirmed the report, saying that the update to distribution is part of the White House’s response to distributing vaccine doses in accordance with supply. She told reporters that it is up to state governors as to how much they want to order, whether it be full or partial.


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“The doses that are not then given to that state will then go into a kind of an overarching supply that can then be distributed to other states by population,” she said. 

Typically, leftover doses roll over into the state’s next weekly allocation, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should a state or jurisdiction order just a portion of its maximum allocation amount. 

States can order however much they want up to their individual allocations on a weekly basis, keeping the supply distributions flexible.

“We want to ensure that the doses that we free up unused and unordered doses,” Psaki concluded.

Currently, the vaccine rollout has been steady, with nearly one-third of Americans having been fully vaccinated with two doses and another 44.4 percent having received at least one dose. More than 246 million vaccines have been administered. 

National data suggests that despite a broad availability and a growing positive sentiment towards vaccination, the rate of daily doses administered has steadily declined since mid-April. 


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Published on May 04, 2021