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AHA Pens Letter to President-elect on Expediting COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   January 15, 2021

AHA CEO Richard Pollack details the importance of having a strong vaccine plan and "clear leadership and direction" from the Biden administration to keep COVID-19 problems at bay.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) urged President-elect Biden to "provide strong federal leadership on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration" in a letter released Thursday night.

Richard Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA, asked Biden to include among his top priorities ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As a first step, we want to work with you in expediting the administration of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the nation," the letter read.

In mid-December, the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, a move which created hope through the healthcare sector.

"To turn that hope into reality, we urge your administration to provide strong federal leadership of the vaccine distribution and administration process," the letter read. "This effort must be large and multifaceted, and it will require exceptional leadership and coordination to ensure none of the vaccine is wasted."

Currently, administration of two COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna has been frought with logistical challenges and described as a "nightmare."

Some hospitals have complained about not receiving any doses, while in other areas of the country, doses are expiring or being wasted. At the end of December, 500 vaccine doses were even destroyed by a pharmacist in Wisconsin.

"During the past week, you have announced plans to release large quantities of vaccines, as well as your intention to urge the states to abandon the previous tiering system and move to vaccinating individuals age 65 or older and individuals who have co-morbidities that put them at increased risk from COVID-19. We share your sense of urgency and applaud your decision to simplify the task by eliminating some of the tiering and by making more vaccines readily available," the letter read.

"However, as we wrote in a Jan. 6 letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, we believe many additional actions will be needed to enable the full scale vaccination effort that will be necessary to achieve our shared goal of herd immunity in the next few months."

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020 to January 14, 2021, the U.S. has had over 22.9 million cases and over 380,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of January 14, over 30.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed, while 11.1 million doses have been administered, according to the CDC.

"Without clear leadership and direction from your administration, these problems will inevitably worsen as the number of people seeking to be vaccinated grows exponentially," the letter said.

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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