Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the government will no longer hold back second doses of the COVID vaccines, practically doubling supply. He's also urging states to immediately start vaccinating people age 65 and older. (Jan. 12)
ALEX AZAR: This next phase reflects the urgency of the situation we face. Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied. We are releasing the entire supply we have for order by states, rather than holding second doses in physical reserve.
We are 100% committed to ensuring a second dose is available for every American who receives a first dose. Let me repeat that. Our approach continues to ensure that there will be a second dose available for someone who gets a first dose of vaccine. Based on the science and evidence we have, it is imperative that people receive their second doses on time.
Because we now have a consistent pace of production, we can now ship all of the doses that had been held in physical reserve with second doses being supplied by doses coming off of manufacturing lines with quality control. We are telling states they should open vaccinations to all people over age 65 and over and all people under age 65 with a comorbidity with some form of medical documentation, as defined by governors. With the case counts we face now, there is absolutely no time to waste. We need doses going to where they'll be administered quickly and where they'll protect the most vulnerable.