White House planning to forecast vaccine shipments months in advance


The Biden administration is planning to provide states with estimates of their expected vaccine shipments likely months ahead of time rather than weeks, according to multiple sources with knowledge.

The longer planning window, which is expected to start as soon as next week, could address concerns from governors who had complained that limited shipment forecasts affect their ability to plan vaccination clinics and figure out where to steer doses. And it represents the growing confidence among vaccine makers and the Biden administration in the production of shots, with substantial boosts in supply expected over the coming weeks.

What happened: White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients in a private call with governors on Tuesday said the administration is aiming to provide states with multiple months of estimates for vaccine shipments, according to notes of the call obtained by POLITICO. Two other sources confirmed a longer window into vaccine shipments is expected next week.

Zients cautioned the expanded timeline means there’s likely to be more variation between forecasted shipments further out and what states actually receive. However, he said the White House understood that states have sought additional visibility on expected shipments to help with planning.

The White House declined to comment.

The background: Early in the vaccine rollout, states complained they weren’t getting enough notice of vaccine shipments. Soon after taking office, Biden’s Covid team committed to providing states with three-week estimates into their vaccine allocations.

Over the past month, weekly vaccine shipments to states have steadily increased from 8.6 million shots to 14.5 million.

“States are really starting to look at the bigger picture, and to do that you really need a better sense of how many doses are coming and when,” said Claire Hannan, the head of the Association of Immunization Managers.
However, states will still want details about how many doses will be spread across federally run programs that ship vaccines directly to retail pharmacy and community health center sites.

What’s next: Vaccine supply is supposed to increase significantly in the spring. The candidate from Johnson & Johnson could receive an emergency use authorization from FDA as soon as this weekend, giving the U.S. a third shot against the coronavirus. The U.S. is on track to have 3 million doses per day available by April, drugmakers testified this week.

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