COVID vaccinations taking longer than expected, doctors call for more national oversight

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are still in Phase 1a of vaccine distribution, including healthcare workers and long term care residents and staff. While so many continue to wait, some doctors say the process should be faster and more organized.

As the process is moving slower than expected, officials are now considering giving a half dose of the Moderna vaccine to certain populations, which would double the number of available doses.

"Giving half the dose to people between the ages of 18-55. Two doses, half the dose. We know it induces an identical immune response," said Moncef Slaoui, Chief Advisor for Operation Warp Speed on Sunday morning.

The final decision on that will be made by the FDA.

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Officials say charges are pending against a Grafton, Wisconsin pharmacist who is accused of deliberately spoiling doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the latest numbers from the CDC, 13 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed nationwide, but only around 4.2 million Americans have actually received it. This falls short of President Donald Trump's goal of 20 million people getting vaccinated by the end of 2020.

"A lot of this is because of public health care systems taxed with contact tracing and managing COVID are also taxed with distributing the vaccine and they need more help," said ABC News medical contributor Dr. Darien Sutton.

Dr. Delana Wardlaw, a family physician with Temple Health, received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week. She's also encouraging her patients to get vaccinated when it's available to them.
"I am a firm believer that I do not recommend anything to my patients that I do not recommend for myself, my family and my friends. I do believe the science. I believe in the science behind vaccines," said Wardlaw.

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Hospitals in Los Angeles County that are struggling to provide enough oxygen for the sickest coronavirus patients received some relief Saturday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews arrived.

She says there's been a lack of national oversight when it comes to vaccine distribution.

"We haven't really had a protocol to follow," said Wardlaw. "Along with mask mandates, testing protocols, that follows suit with vaccine distribution. There isn't really a national protocol that has been established."

Monday morning in New Jersey, healthcare workers at University Hospital in Newark will receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While more local clinics are opening for healthcare workers who don't work in hospitals, it could be a few months before the general population can get vaccinated.
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