Millions of U.S. vaccine doses sit on ice, putting 2020 goal in doubt

By Rebecca Spalding and Carl O'Donnell
(Reuters) - Millions of COVID-19 vaccines go unused in U.S. hospitals and elsewhere a week after the massive vaccination campaign began, casting doubt on the government's goal of 20 million vaccinations this month.
As of Wednesday morning, only 1 million shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been given, about a third of the first shipment shipped last week. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 9.5 million doses of vaccine, including Moderna, have been shipped to states.
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While hospitals have started distributing Moderna's vaccine, the CDC has not yet reported these dates and there may be delays in reporting shots given for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The slow pace has barely increased since the first week when 614,000 shots were fired, despite nearly 2.9 million being delivered.
Hospitals said the first COVID-19 vaccinations started slowly last Monday as they prepared the previously frozen shots for use, found staff to run vaccination clinics, and ensured adequate social distancing both before and after vaccination. Some said they only took about 100 pictures on the first day.
They struggled with a COVID-19 spike as cases in the U.S. topped 18 million with 323,000 deaths. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)
The Trump administration pledged to vaccinate 20 million by the end of the year while allocating little funding to meet the target.
That's nine days to fire nearly 19 million shots or vaccinate more than 2 million people a day, including on Christmas Day.
Nearly 5.9 million doses of Moderna Inc's vaccine were scheduled to run out this week, and another 2 million doses from Pfizer and partner BioNTech.
Two more vaccines may be approved by Johnson & Johnson Inc and AstraZeneca Plc in February.
The government's target is 100 million Pfizer and Moderna shots by March 1st.
Operation Warp Speed's General Gustave Perna, who oversees vaccine distribution, said Monday that the CDC data reflects a delay in reporting and that the number of vaccinations will catch up over time.
The CDC said their data could also reflect a delay between vaccine dosing and state reporting. Most nursing home vaccinations didn't start en masse until this week, and the CDC data doesn't tell how many doses of the first batch of states were held for this group.
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Margaret Mary Health, a 25-bed rural hospital in Indiana, is building a drive-through vaccination clinic at a local fire department and one at a local recreation center to vaccinate health workers in the surrounding counties, according to Tim Putnam, chief executive officer.
Putnam, who conducted the traffic control on the clinic's passage, said he used about 400 out of 1,100 cans received.
"We are asking our staff for volunteers, volunteers from the local community college, to take this process from the ground up," he said.
Some of the largest US hospitals have vaccinated more than 1,000 people a day after running vaccine delivery and introduction through dry runs.
Vermont, Delaware, and Idaho were among the states that confirmed their states had only given thousands of doses in the first week - a fraction of those available to them.
The story goes on

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