Biden team sees risks in Trump decision to widen vaccine pool - The Washington Post
Jan 13, 2021 1 min, 28 secs
Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden are balking at a decision by the Trump administration to dramatically increase the number of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, believing the changes could overwhelm states and create unrealistic expectations for millions of Americans waiting for shots.

Biden’s team similarly wants states to expand eligibility for elderly residents, as some are already doing, said two transition officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe ongoing deliberations.

But the officials said immediately including people 64 and under with a high-risk condition — which can mean everything from diabetes to obesity — would stretch supply and saddle states desperately in need of additional resources to augment their workforce and stand up mass vaccination sites.

Biden’s team was awaiting more details about another part of the plan to redirect some vaccine away from states moving more slowly to inoculate residents, but advisers looked unfavorably on a system that “punishes states,” said two officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the criticisms.

A senior Trump administration official disputed the Biden team criticisms, saying Operation Warp Speed officials looked at the data and studied what states were reporting.

“It’s clear in many states that an overly prescriptive focus on the highest priority group was creating a bottleneck and slowing vaccination uptake,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

While the incoming administration supports states moving as quickly as possible to vaccinate additional priority groups, the transition team has been told by state and local authorities and immunization managers that many states don’t have enough supply of the vaccine or other resources to hire more vaccinators to staff large-scale clinics, the two Biden transition officials said.

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