Idaho’s vaccine shipment far short of what federal government promised

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Idaho health officials started out the week with high hopes for ramping up the state’s vaccine roll-out. By Friday, the state has received fewer than half the doses it was promised for the week.

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Administrator of Public Health for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said during a Tuesday press call that the state expected to have received 155,175 total doses by the end of the week, as the federal government announced that it was ramping up distribution to states and releasing all its remaining doses in reserve. The news came just after Gov. Brad Little’s announcement that Idaho was expanding vaccination eligibility to school employees and certain frontline workers in January, and Idahoans ages 65 and older in February.

But on Friday, states learned the federal government’s reserves were already depleted. By the end of this week, Idaho will have received a total of 120,375 doses — about 35,000 fewer than anticipated.

The shortfall isn’t unique to Idaho. The Washington Post reports that states are learning their weekly allotments of the vaccine will stay largely flat.

“Along with other states, Idaho is requesting more accurate, timely, and forward-looking estimates of doses Idaho will receive from the federal government,” IDHW said in a Friday statement.

Of the 120,375 doses Idaho has received, 87,225 doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have gone to health care providers like hospitals and clinics. Through a distribution partnership with the federal government, 33,150 doses of Pfizer have gone to Walgreens and CVS for staff and residents of long term care facilities.

Niki Forbing-Orr, public information officer for IDHW, said next week, Idaho will receive 20,950 doses. “It’s hard to say if next week’s number of doses is what we were expecting — it changes every week,” she wrote in an e-mail to Idaho Reports. The state places a vaccine order every week based on allocations provided by the federal government.

Forbing-Orr said she isn’t aware of plans to delay the expanded roll-out to Idahoans ages 65 and older.

Idaho still has tens of thousands of vaccine doses that haven’t yet been administered. As of Friday morning, IDHW reported just 51,233 doses have been given. That breaks down to 31,685 people receiving just one dose so far, and 9,739 people receiving both doses.

Most states are experiencing that same bottleneck. According to the CDC, of the 31.1 million doses distributed nationwide, just 12.2 million have been administered.

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