The dean of Brown University's School of Public health is speaking out about what he calls a slow distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, criticizing the federal government for not doing enough to help at the state level.
In a lengthy tweet thread, Dr. Ashish Jha said he was "incredibly frustrated" by the slow pace of vaccine distribution and states and hospitals having to fend for themselves.
As of last Wednesday, just over 1 million people in the U.S. had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, well below the federal government's goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of the year.
The doctor said state departments of health, already overwhelmed by their responses to the pandemic, were struggling to administer vaccines because there was "no effort from Feds to help states launch a real vaccination infrastructure."
"The worst part is no real planning on what happens when vaccines arrive in states," he said. "No plan, no money, just hope that states will figure this out."
Jha said states were working to administer vaccines despite a lack of resources.
"They are trying to stand up a vaccination infrastructure," he wrote. "Congress had given them no money. States are out of money So many are passing it on to hospitals, nursing homes."
He added he believes hospitals are also working without a clear roadmap.
"But now hospitals trying to figure out where to set up vaccination sites. And folks sorting out who can do vaccinations in care facilities," he wrote.
Health experts say distributing COVID-19 vaccines to all Americans who want them in a matter of months is more complicated than originally thought. In addition to vaccine doses, states also need supplies such as needles, syringes and bottles. People must also be trained on how to store and administer the vaccines.
Still, CDC Director Robert Redfield last week praised the U.S. for reaching the milestone of 1 million vaccinations, calling it an “achievement” that will help front-line health-care workers.
“While we celebrate this historic milestone, we also acknowledge the challenging path ahead,” Redfield said in a statement. “There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available.”
Jha reiterated his belief that the federal government should do more.
"We're learning again we can't fight pandemic with every state on its own," he wrote. "An effective federal govt helps."