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White House cautions providers against holding back vaccine doses

The Biden administration expressed concern on Monday that health care providers could essentially be hoarding Covid-19 vaccine doses for second shots that could be administered for initial shots, warning that that “should not happen.”

White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt cautioned there is concern that providers, amid a lack of predictability about supply, are holding back available doses.

“We believe that some health care providers are regularly holding back doses that are intended as first doses, and instead keeping them in reserve for second doses for patients. We want to be clear that we understand why health care providers have done that, but that it does not need to happen, and should not happen,” Slavitt said at Monday’s virtual press briefing.

But Slavitt predicted the “efficiency of doses being administered will steadily improve.”

“On January 20, states had administered 46% of their inventory. Today, that number is 62%. We are focused on this every hour of every day,” he said.

Slavitt suggested that in some cases, patients’ appointments for a first dose are being canceled and pressed the urgency in getting first doses out as quickly as possible. He said the administration’s move last week to provide a three-week window into vaccine shipping plans was meant to allay concerns that second doses could get held up.

“With this action, states and vaccine providers will more rapidly use their first doses to vaccinate as many people as quickly and as equitably as possible, because they now have the predictability, that the second dose will be there when the time comes,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made another plea on Monday for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 when it’s their turn in the vaccine rollout — not just for personal health but also to help prevent more coronavirus variants from emerging in the future.

“You need to get vaccinated when it becomes available as quickly and as expeditiously as possible,” Fauci said during a White House briefing, adding that viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate.

“You stop their replication by vaccinating widely,” Fauci said. “When the vaccine becomes available to you, please get vaccinated.”

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