The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February as the Trump administration previously said.
The new administration is determined to meet the goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in 100 days, Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
However, the shots won’t be available for just anyone in pharmacies, like the flu vaccine is, by late February, as former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Guthrie last month.
“We are going to, as part of our plan, put the vaccine in pharmacies. Will it be in every pharmacy in this country by that timeline? I don’t think so,” Walensky said. “I don’t think late February, we’re going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country.”
“After 100 days, there are still a lot of Americans who need vaccine, so we have our pedal to the metal to make sure that we can get as much vaccine out there,” she said. “We recognize this is the most immediate emergency to get this country back to health.”
According to Walensky, the work to meet the 100-day goal “had already begun” and the main points of the plan are to make sure vaccine eligibility meets supply, that there are enough vaccinators and that vaccine sites are “diverse so that we can get to all people.”
“The whole basis for how we do vaccine rollout has to be based on equity and we’re committed to that,” she said.
A main goal is to help people who have “vaccine hesitancy” by educating them on the science so they better understand the vaccine, according to Walensky.
The administration also has to pinpoint and fix distribution problems by making sure the vaccine, the syringes and the demand for the shots all line up at specific sites, she said.
“We’ve been meeting daily at least for six weeks or so. So that work has begun already, so we are on the ground,” Walensky said. “The plan was not to start planning toady. The plan is to start working today and to get it out to the people.”
Walensky, an infectious diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was sworn in Wednesday when the U.S. reported 4,131 coronavirus-related deaths, setting a record for the most COVID-19 deaths recorded in a single day.
Walensky said that at the current pace, 100,000 more coronavirus-related deaths could be expected by the middle or end of February.