Some states are lifting eligibility restrictions as the number of coronavirus vaccine doses in their supply outstrips demand, Politico reports.
After months of slow distribution and difficulty setting appointments, some states are allowing walk-ins and out-of-state residents to get vaccines due to low demand.
States like Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Alaska are all struggling to use up all of their allotted doses.
In Alaska, medical providers are giving EMTs doses of vaccine to bring to any home or business with more than three people.
“We’re trying to really meet people where they’re at — and that may be [a] physical location, it may be just making sure their questions are answered,” Alaska’s chief medical officer Anne Zink told Politico.
Too many vaccines:
The number of vaccinations has increased to around 3 million per day but states like North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Virginia all have more open appointment slots than ever before.
Some states are administering fewer than 75% of the doses they have received.
The Biden administration has touted its $3 billion investment in vaccine distribution and a new volunteer corps aimed at boosting vaccine confidence but some Republicans say the efforts have fallen short.
Vaccine hesitancy is a key reason for the low demand. A recent federal report found that more than 25% of residents in states like Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming have expressed concerns about the vaccine.
About 16% of all American adults are reluctant to get vaccinated, according to a Census Bureau report.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester said he hopes that community leaders can play a role in convincing people to get vaccinated but said the CDC needs to do a better job of linking the vaccines to a return to normalcy.
“[Their strategy] needs to evolve,” he told Politico. “It needs to be based on science, but it also needs to be based on common sense.”
While the Biden administration has strongly boosted distribution, the federal government now needs to focus on boosting demand.
“As long as there are places with more supply than demand, then there is more work to be done on demand,” Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist, told the outlet. “If a strategy is only sort of working, which I think is the case, we could do better by experimenting with different approaches.”