Covid-19 Vaccine

State Responses to COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

by FOCUS, a Leonine Business

As states receive their allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations, many health departments are grappling with vaccine distribution plans that inoculate the most vulnerable of the population. Federal guidance provided little framework for states to follow as they scramble to rollout vaccines for healthcare personnel and critical populations, including immunocompromised individuals and elderly.

Some states, such as Florida, with high numbers of health care personnel and elderly, are seeing distribution issues as available vaccines do not meet the current population needs. While Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted Florida as the first state to offer vaccines to people 65 and older, many seniors are facing issues with overloaded call centers and crashed websites as they search for vaccinations. This is occurring simultaneously as health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are still waiting for their first inoculation.

Adding to the distribution issues are the requirements for proper handling and storing of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Each vial contains 10 doses that must be kept frozen between negative 13 degrees to five degrees. Once the vaccine has thawed, it can be kept up to 30 days. If the vial is punctured, the full vial must be used within six hours. Many places are facing fines if full vials are not utilized, which is causing pandemonium in cases such as the NorCal hospital that experienced freezer storage issues that required the hospital to give out 500 vaccines in two hours, reports the Los Angeles Times.

On January 9, Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled an updated vaccine rollout plan that includes individuals 75 years or older, those with significant health issues and essential front-line workers in the top priority. Those identified in the essential worker group includes first responders, correctional officers, postal workers, grocery store workers, teachers, clergy and public transit workers.

As states struggle with logistics issues and pressure from all directions for a speedy vaccine distribution with little guidance, it is no wonder that vaccine rollout plans are weeks behind originally planned schedules. This unprecedented time has forced state health departments to reevaluate their capacity to manage large scale pandemics and turn to both traditional and non-traditional partners for assistance.


FOCUS is a full-service 50-state government relations, strategic consulting and information services firm. Specialized services include regulatory and legislative tracking and reporting, coalition and association management, issues management, government affairs department audits, public policy research and a 50-state and global lobbyist network. Get in touch with us to learn more!