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White House promises vaccine help as states rush to catch up

White House promises vaccine help as states rush to catch up
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DALLAS - A giant vaccination centre is opening in Houston to administer 126,000 coronavirus doses in the next three weeks. Nevada health officials are working overtime to distribute delayed shots. And Rhode Island is rescheduling appointments after a vaccine shipment failed to arrive as scheduled earlier in the week.

From coast to coast, states were scrambling Tuesday to catch up on vaccinations a week after winter storms battered a large swath of the U.S. and led to clinic closures, cancelled appointments and shipment backlogs nationwide.

But limited supply of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines hampered the pace of vaccinations even before the extreme weather last week delayed the delivery of about 6 million doses.

The White House promised on Tuesday that help is on the way.

States can expect about 14.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine this week, an almost 70% increase in distribution over the last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. And White House coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the number of doses sent directly to pharmacies will increase by about 100,000 this week, Psaki said.

The stepped-up efforts come as the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpassed 500,000, far more than any other country.

Although average daily deaths and cases have been falling, some experts say not enough Americans have been inoculated for the vaccine to be making enough of a difference. The decline instead is attributed to the passing of the holidays, more people staying indoors during the winter and better adherence to mask rules and social distancing.

What’s more, they warn that dangerous variants could cause the trend to reverse itself.

So states are simultaneously trying to catch up from last week’s pause, and gear up to vaccinate even more people in the coming weeks.

Houston’s federally funded vaccination site will open Wednesday at NRG Park, operating seven days a week for three weeks to distribute 126,000 first doses, before transitioning to second doses, officials said.

Texans are recovering from a devastating winter storm that killed at least 35 people, left millions without power and water, and delayed vaccinations.

“It’s been trauma after trauma, and people deserve some good news, some hope.” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s chief elected official. She said priority will be given to people who live in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.

In Mississippi, where COVID-19 vaccinations plummeted last week amid freezing temperatures and icy roads, health officials were automatically rescheduling appointments, and planned to schedule more people than normal for vaccinations through the weekend.

The state Department of Health said Monday that just 32,540 vaccinations were given in the state last week, down from 106,691 the previous week, Mississippi’s busiest week for the vaccinations so far.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday that 46,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine delayed because of weather began arriving in the state.

The head of the state’s Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness, said officials would work overtime to administer those doses along with this week’s regularly scheduled shipment.

President Joe Biden has said that every American who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the end of July.
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