Currently, most US states and jurisdictions have a limited supply of all three FDA-approved vaccines. The federal government allocates a specific number of vaccines from each manufacturer to each state, which makes a weekly order that arrives directly to each provider. Through their COVID-19 information websites, few states give some information regarding people choosing which vaccine to get, and most of these governments recommend getting the vaccine that is being offered to them. According to our research, some jurisdictions are not getting Pfizer vaccines because they lack the ultra-cold requirements.
- A specific number of doses “are made available to states and jurisdictions.”
- The CDC posts new allocations of doses every week on Tuesdays. These posts are specific to the currently available vaccines in the country: Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). “Beginning the following Thursday, states can begin ordering doses from that week’s new allocation of 1st doses. Beginning two weeks (Pfizer) or three weeks (Moderna) from the following Sunday, states can begin ordering doses from that week’s new allocation of 2nd doses.”
- After different states order their needed doses, vaccines are shipped the following Monday.
- For example, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be allocated in all US states, except for American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mariana Islands, Palau, and Alaska, the week starting March 8, 2021. “Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau will not receive Pfizer vaccines due to logistical considerations with ultra-cold requirements.”
- The Janssen vaccine was allocated to all US states and jurisdictions the week starting March 1, 2021.
Examples of Vaccines Distribution by State
Most states do not include information regarding how they are considering using the Janssen vaccine doses vs the Pfizer and Moderna doses in their COVID-19 websites. This may be because, as we described above, the federal government is in charge of allocating the different vaccines to each state and jurisdiction, and it is possible that they are giving all vaccines they receive each week, regardless of the manufacturer, as there is currently limited supply. Below we describe the vaccine processes that some states provide on their websites, which help corroborate that they are distributing the vaccines as the federal government provides them. We tried to cover as many states as we could in the time allocated and are providing only those that have the most amount of information regarding the available vaccines (Janssen, Pfizer, and Moderna) and their distribution.
1. North Carolina
- In North Carolina, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that people “take the vaccine that is offered to them,” as currently COVID-19 vaccines have limited supply. This department determines “which vaccine providers will receive vaccine doses based on their ability to reach prioritized populations.” Then, the manufacturer ships the vaccines directly to local vaccine providers.
- The department’s website stipulates that the federal government decides the number of vaccines to be given to each state based on its population of people over the age of 18.
- The state currently administers Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
2. New York
- New York’s COVID-19 website states: “The Federal Government determines how much vaccine New York State receives. The Federal Government has given New York approximately 400,000 vaccines/week for over 12 million people who are eligible – as a result, supply is very limited.”
- According to this website, people can receive either the Pfizer, the Moderna, or the Janssen vaccine. It does not specify which vaccine they will get, but it states: ” If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, your second dose appointment will be scheduled automatically when you receive your first vaccine dose.” Also, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.”
- Texas COVID-19 website contains a link that redirects to a COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles document, which states that Texas will receive regular allotments from the federal government and that these will be shipped directly to enrolled providers as allocated by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which “has created an Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions.”
- According to its website, when people get the vaccine, they “will receive information about what kind of vaccine they got and when they need to come back for a second dose.”
- According to California’s COVID-19 website, people “may be able to choose” which vaccine to get, depending on which vaccines are available, but they need to ask the healthcare provider.
- This website also states that “the federal government announces anticipated allocation figures for each state,” which “is a projection and subject to change.”
- This state recommends the public to “take whatever vaccine is made available” to them. This statement may indicate that different vaccines are offered to the public as they become available.
- According to this government’s COvid-19 vaccines information, if people get a vaccine that requires two doses, they need a follow-up dose. This statement may suggest that people in this state can get whichever vaccine is available at the time.
- The government of Connecticut states that given the limited supply, only one vaccine may be available through a specific provider. Given this, it could be difficult for people to choose a vaccine.
- Michigan provides a document that answers questions about vaccine doses. Here, the government states that people that get vaccinated will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, which will tell them the name of the vaccine administered and when they will receive a second dose if required.
- Also, the document states that “it is unlikely” that people will be able to choose which vaccine to get, and advises taking “whichever vaccine is available.”