California will get 160,000 fewer doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine than originally planned, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
Earlier this week, Newsom said a second wave of shipments to the state would include 393,000 doses. A spokesperson for the governor confirmed Friday California is one of several states that will receive fewer.
Erin Mellon, a spokesperson with Newsom’s office, said to “check with the federal government” on the changing vaccine allotments.
“The federal government delayed the number of Pfizer vaccines that California will receive in the next shipment – many states received new estimated shipment amounts,” Mellon wrote in an email. “Based on this latest information, we’re expecting about 233,000 doses.”
Newsom addressed the issue in a prerecorded coronavirus update released on social media Friday afternoon, calling the slashed dosages “unfortunate.”
He said his administration was told Thursday “by CDC [and] HHS that they’re cutting [the original allotment] by 40%.”
Newsom said federal officials hadn’t responded to his calls for more details, but Pfizer had.
“They claim they have more vaccines but are not getting the authorization from the federal government for the distribution,” he said. “So there’s been a point of frustration — friction, to be candid with you — that’s been expressed by many, many governors across the country regardless of political party.”
Washington, Florida, Illinois, Idaho and Michigan are among other states also reporting their number of estimated allotments had been cut.
There’s plenty of finger pointing over the reduced number of doses. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar initially blamed Pfizer for “production challenges.”
However, the drug company said in a statement that it has not had production delays and has “millions more doses sitting in our warehouse” but has not received shipment instructions from the government. The company said it plans to distribute 50 million doses by the end of the year.
“It’s a little troubling if there is anything from the federal side that’s delaying this,” said Catherine Flores-Martin, executive director of the nonprofit California Immunization Coalition. “Things are changing a lot.”
Flores-Martin said she believes the Pfizer product “will get caught up eventually” and noted “luckily, we have more vaccine coming from Moderna” as soon as it gets FDA approval for distribution.
California has already received 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is in the process of inoculating health care workers who deal directly with COVID-19 patients. The vaccine needs to be delivered in two doses about three weeks apart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Newsom said Monday he hoped 2.1 million Californians would receive the vaccine by the end of the year. It’s unclear now if that goal is within reach.
“We are focused on quickly distributing the vaccines we have to Californians in a way that is equitable and transparent,” Mellon said.
Health care workers and nursing home residents are at the front of California’s line to get vaccinated. A state workgroup is determining who will be next. Newsom has suggested groups like teachers and farmworkers could be included in the next phase, which is being referred to as “Phase 1B.”
The state is also expected to receive 672,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is currently awaiting FDA approval, but after this week’s changes in vaccine allotments, the Newsom administration isn’t banking on that number.
“As we know, that could change,” Mellon said.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.