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Watchdog: Most states concerned about adequate supplies for COVID-19 vaccine

The congressional Government Accountability Office said 17 states are “greatly” or “completely” concerned about having adequate supplies for COVID-19 vaccines.

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog agency says most states are concerned they won’t have adequate supplies to administer COVID-19 vaccines, which are expected to start becoming available for high-priority groups in the next few weeks.

The congressional Government Accountability Office said in a report Monday that 17 states are “greatly” or “completely” concerned about having adequate supplies to administer vaccines, while another 21 states said in an agency survey they were “moderately” concerned.

The federal government’s “Operation Warp Speed” campaign aims to start shipping vaccines within 24 hours of an emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration. But there’s concern about the final, local delivery links in getting vaccines finally into people’s arms, sometimes referred to as the “last mile” in the chain.

Initially vaccines are expected to go to health care workers, with nursing home staff and residents, and essential workers getting the next highest priority.

GAO said senior officials from six states stated they were specifically concerned about the federal government’s ability to supply needles given reports of shortages. Three of those states also said they were scrambling to maintain supplies of needles for flu vaccination.

The GAO report did not identify the states.

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Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. 

Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.

Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.

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