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Officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine deliveries and prioritization criteria

An assortment of vaccine bottles sit in a basket.

Upon receiving the initial shipment of the vaccine, part of which is shown here, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, began inoculating personnel following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's prioritization guidelines.

There's been significant progress in getting the COVID-19 vaccines out to the states, said Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed.

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VIDEO | 46:16 | Operation Warp Speed Leaders Hold Briefing on Vaccine

Thus far, 25 million doses of the Moderna and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech vaccines have been sent to 16,000 locations throughout the United States, he said.

Perna; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to OWS; and, Alex M. Azar II, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, briefed the news media today on OWS.

"The cadence of allocations, the cadence of orders, the cadence of picking and packing, the cadence of what's being shipped, has really become a remarkable feat for all of us, and the whole of America to be proud of," Perna said. "The result will be a safe and effective vaccine delivered to the American people."

An assortment of vaccine bottles sit in a basket.
Upon receiving the initial shipment of the vaccine, part of which is shown here, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, began inoculating personnel following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's prioritization guidelines.
An assortment of vaccine bottles sit in a basket.
Initial Shipment
Upon receiving the initial shipment of the vaccine, part of which is shown here, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, began inoculating personnel following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's prioritization guidelines.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Colvin
VIRIN: 210104-F-YL679-1060A

OWS, in collaboration with pharmacies Walgreens and CVS have made significant progress in getting vaccines out to many of the 70,000 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, he said. 

In less than a month, 11,000 of those facilities have received the first dose of vaccines, he said, and 12,000 more are scheduled this week, with similar numbers for the weeks following.

Perna acknowledged the hard work of Moderna, Pfizer, distributor McKesson Corp., United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp., who he said are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deliver the vaccine in a timely manner.

A man in a military uniform applies a small band aid to the arm of another man in military uniform.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Smalling, the 673d Healthcare Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of family health, administers the first of a two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristopher Berg, the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Alaskan Command and Eleventh Air Force command chief, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 4, 2021.
A man in a military uniform applies a small band aid to the arm of another man in military uniform.
First Dose
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Smalling, the 673d Healthcare Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of family health, administers the first of a two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristopher Berg, the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Alaskan Command and Eleventh Air Force command chief, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 4, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Colvin
VIRIN: 210104-F-YL679-1031A

Azar said that "we've seen substantial rises in American's confidence in these vaccines and interest in taking them."

Over the last several days, OWS has averaged around 700,000 reported vaccinations each day and OWS is on track to reach 1 million per day within about 10 days or less, he said. A total of 9 million first vaccinations have already been given.

By the end of next week, 95% of long-term care facilities will have had first dose vaccines administered, Azar added.

Azar said he's telling states to allow people 65 and older to now receive the vaccine, as well as those who are younger and who have a comorbidity with medical documentation.

A gloved hand holds a syringe and a small bottle of vaccine.
A technician loads a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine for inoculating personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Jan. 5, 2021. Officials at the base are currently vaccinating health care providers, support staff, emergency services and public safety personnel.
A gloved hand holds a syringe and a small bottle of vaccine.
Vaccination Prep
A technician loads a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine for inoculating personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Jan. 5, 2021. Officials at the base are currently vaccinating health care providers, support staff, emergency services and public safety personnel.
Photo By: Wesley Farnsworth, Air Force
VIRIN: 210105-F-AV193-1015T

"We're expanding the groups getting vaccinated because state restrictions on eligibility have obstructed speed and accessibility of administration," he explained.

"There was never a reason states needed to complete vaccinating all healthcare providers before opening vaccinations to older Americans and other vulnerable populations," he added.

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