OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined several other governors in calling for more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be released by the federal government.
Inslee and eight others, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, sent a strongly worded letter Friday to the secretary and chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., requesting more doses of the vaccine.
"We very much appreciate the partnership with Operation Warp Speed (OWS) and are grateful for the vaccines received to date, but our states and residents need more vaccines now. This need is all the more urgent with the onset of the new variant of the virus," the letter said.
Under the Trump administration's approach, the government has been holding back a supply of vaccines to guarantee that people can get a second shot, which provides maximum protection against COVID-19. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second shot about three weeks after the first vaccination. One-shot vaccines are still undergoing testing.
But the governors' letter criticized the Trump administration's decision to withhold these vaccines. They said that the federal government's agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, and the expected emergency use authorization of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca later this year should give them the "utmost confidence that the manufacturing pipeline is robust, safe, and capable of protecting a majority of the American public in the coming year."
"Our states are ready to work around the clock to ramp up distribution, get more shots in arms, and save more American lives... There is no challenge we can't meet. Let's work together and get it done," the letter concluded.
This call from governors comes just as President-elect Joe Biden said he plans to release the most available COVID-19 vaccine doses when he takes office to speed delivery to more people, according to his office Friday.
“The president-elect believes we must accelerate the distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible," spokesman T.J. Ducklo said in a statement. Biden “supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now.”
In Washington state, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has been slow and hospital leaders last week even called the effort "clunky."
The Washington State Hospital Association said last week that logistics continue to be the biggest challenge when it comes to getting the vaccine out to those who need it.