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‘Are you ready for 1 million doses?’

Coronavirus Daily

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'Are you ready for 1 million doses?'

Orders are in for Covid-19 vaccines.

On Friday, U.S. states requested their initial supplies of Pfizer and BioNTech's still-experimental Covid-19 vaccine ahead of a Food and Drug Administration advisory meeting this week. Shipments will start flowing shortly after the regulator authorizes the vaccine.

The milestone moment comes after weeks of conflicting information from the federal government made it difficult for local leaders to know exactly what to expect. Some governors, such as New York's Andrew Cuomo and California's Gavin Newsom, made splashy announcements about how many doses their states would receive. Yet some health officials were hearing different amounts than their governors were, said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

"It would be great if we had a central spreadsheet that everyone could look at," she said.

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg

The federal government has said the first batch of 6.4 million Pfizer shots will be divided among states, territories, large cities and the departments of State, Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. They are to be allocated using an apparently straightforward calculation: their proportion of the adult population. But a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman declined to say how many doses are allocated to each entity or how agency allotments would be calculated.

Hannan worries the feds have asked states to spend so much time preparing for day one that they might not be ready for what is sure to be a long, grueling vaccination campaign. And the early days could prove the easiest.

Hospitals will vaccinate their own workers. Pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS will take care of nursing home residents. After that, states must worry about finding their essential workers, seniors and other high-risk groups. They will also be managing many more doses.

"You could get 100,000 doses, you could get 1 million doses," Hannan said. "Are you ready for 1 million doses?"—Angelica LaVito

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