Eight governors, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, are calling on the federal government to begin distributing reserved COVID-19 vaccines to states in a letter sent to federal health officials on Thursday.
On Thursday, Gov. Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials asking for vaccines that have reportedly been in holding to be released to states so that they may continue to distribute vaccines to residents in their states.
“We very much appreciate the partnership with Operation Warp Speed and are grateful for the vaccines received to date, but our states and residents need more vaccines now.,” the letter reads. “This need is all the more urgent with the onset of the new variant of the virus.”
The governors argue the potential for a dangerous outcome should the federal government continue reportedly holding more than 50% of currently produced vaccines while the country continues to average around 2,600 deaths daily.
“In each of our states, vaccine delivery has been much slower than we anticipated, so it is imperative that the federal government distribute the vaccines it is holding on reserve. These vaccines will save millions of Americans from the unnecessary danger and hardship of contracting COVID-19,” said Pritzker in a press release.
“Up to now, this vaccine has only been offered to a very specific group of people at very specific location. Our states are ready to work alongside the federal government to expand vaccine distribution so that we can protect the wellbeing of all our residents, families, small businesses and our economy.”
According to the Washington Post and CNBC, the federal government is holding vaccines on reserve to help address any emergency situations in the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines including the use for patients to receive the second dose required for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“In December, OWS announced agreements with both Pfizer and Moderna to acquire an additional 100 million vaccine doses from each company, bringing the combined allocations expected to the U.S. government to 400 million doses by the second quarter of the year,” the letter from the governors reads.
“These agreements, combined with the expected emergency use authorizations of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca later this year, should give you the utmost confidence that the manufacturing pipeline is robust, safe, and capable of protecting a majority of the America public in the coming year.”
Earlier this week, Pritzker revealed new details about the state’s next phase of vaccinations.
According to the governor, Phase 1B will begin "when Phase 1A is substantially complete."
Still, the exact timing of when the state will enter the next phase remains unclear.
Phase 1B will center on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and more.