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Pa. Department of Health confirms no federal reserve for second dose of COVID-19 vaccines

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The announcement that second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine aren’t being taken from a stockpile has thrown a wrench in states like Pennsylvania’s distribution plans.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editor’s note: The above video is from January 8.

States across the country were thrown for loop this week after the federal government said there actually isn’t a reserve of second COVID-19 vaccine doses as they were led to believe. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Press Secretary, Barry Ciccocioppo, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that there is no reserve of vaccine that was promised to the state.

Ciccocioppo also said that they were anticipating a large increase of allocations in the coming weeks.

States—including Pennsylvania—believed the federal government and Operation Warp Speed had second doses held back in reserve, which now would be “released” to states in order to help turn up the dial on vaccination efforts and get more shots into arms.

Ciccocioppo said that is not the case.

“It is extremely troubling and disappointing to learn that Pennsylvanians who want and need the COVID-19 vaccines will have to wait even longer because Operation Warp Speed does not have the vaccine reserves that just this week HHS promised to release to us,” Ciccocioppo said via email.

For Pennsylvania, that means approximately one million doses that should’ve been in reserve are gone, and the state is left with the limited weekly vaccine allocation.

“The Department of Health is committed to continuing to work with vaccine providers across the state to get the very limited vaccine doses we get each week to as many Pennsylvanians as quickly as possible,” Ciccocioppo continued.

“This sudden change will not interrupt the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. Second doses will come through the current supply chain and everyone who needs their second dose of the vaccine will have access to it. But it will make getting the vaccine to all currently eligible people take a few weeks longer,” Ciccocioppo explained.

According to reports from The Washington Post, the “reserve” was already exhausted when the Trump administration vowed to release it.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday tweeted she had heard of the news, saying she confirmed it directly with Operation Warp Speed: “States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee demanded answers from the Trump administration Friday, saying, “Governors were told repeatedly by @HHSgov there was a strategic reserve of vaccines, and this week, the American people were told it’d be released to increase supply of vaccine. It appears now that no reserve exists. The Trump admin. must answer immediately for this deception.”

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