The distribution of vaccines and supplies in the United States faced many hurdles early on. Under the Trump administration, states were given a percentage of the available supply and were left to make their own prioritization determinations. Then, as doses were stretched thin, support started to form for spreading out the inoculation schedule, or reducing the amount of vaccine given. Finally, under the Biden administration, a plan with national coordination and oversight was announced, with the goal of minimizing inequity and reaching the most vulnerable quickly.
But with states still controlling their own supplies and pacing, regional differences began emerging with respect to those deemed eligible; federal guidelines coordinated the stratification of patients, but not timelines for vaccination. Similarly, the discovery that 50 percent of the federal stockpile didn't actually exist threw plans across the country into chaos. Most recently, the administration has decided to reallocate unused doses and increase domestic production to greatly expand vaccine availability.
Many of the new changes make sense. There was, and remains, a sense of urgency to reach "herd immunity" as rapidly as possible to hasten the end of the pandemic. But new data shows that speed is not a certain panacea, at least not under the current circumstances. It turns out that states that planned rapid expansion of eligible pools vaccinated similar percentages of the population compared to states which instituted slower, tiered approaches. Attributing this to supply-and-demand mismatch, one analysis determined that the poor coordination minimized any advantage faster dissemination would have otherwise offered.
In short, the intent to rapidly rollout vaccines is necessary but not sufficient. An awareness of current and anticipated supply, delivery, and rate of consumption is also needed for states to be maximally successful. Various.