The coronavirus vaccine won’t be widely available in US pharmacies by late February as previously promised, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
“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,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the “Today Show.”
“I don’t think late February, we’re going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country.”
In mid-December, Trump administration Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had told CNBC: “I believe by the end of February, the end of March, of course, depending on the decisions by our governors, but I believe we’ll have enough supply out there to be reaching out to the general public for administration — at your CVS, Walgreens, Kroegers — by the end of February into March.”
Walensky reiterated the Biden administration’s pledge to distribute 100 million doses in the first 100 days, and said it will work to speed up and smooth out production and distribution of the life-saving shots.
“After 100 days, there are still a lot of Americans who need a 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.”
She said CDC officials had been working for weeks to make sure “vaccine eligibility meets supply” and that there are enough medical workers at inoculation sites.
“The whole basis for how we do vaccine rollout has to be based on equity and we’re committed to that,” she added.
In early December, an official with Trump’s Operation Warp Speed said he hoped to immunize 100 million people by the end of February.
“Between mid-December and the end of February, we will have potentially immunized 100 million people,” Moncef Slaoui, the operation’s scientific adviser, said at the time.
As of Thursday, the US had administered 17.5 million vaccine doses, according to the CDC.