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Fast-Track Vaccines

New vaccine plan looks to reward more efficient states with more doses

Andy Uhler Jan 13, 2021
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A 72-year-old long-term care patient receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21, 2020, in Chula Vista, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images
Fast-Track Vaccines

New vaccine plan looks to reward more efficient states with more doses

Andy Uhler Jan 13, 2021
Heard on:
A 72-year-old long-term care patient receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21, 2020, in Chula Vista, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has switched up the federal government’s approach to vaccine distribution. It’s making more people eligible for the shot now, and states will get more vaccine doses if they are more successful getting it into people.

Azar was critical of the way some states are distributing vaccines. The new approach looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses.

“The reasons why a state might be slow in its vaccine rollout is not something that can be cured by changing the incentives on how many future doses they’re going to get,” said Josh Michaud, a director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Azar said states have two weeks to ramp up distribution and reporting to meet the new standards.

The CDC has also expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The changes come a week before Joe Biden is sworn in as president.

“This is creating a lot of confusion and chaos and anxiety days before a new administration comes in,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

Azar said he will brief the Biden transition team on the changes.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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