Speed Reads

coming up short

U.S. doesn't have funds to buy a 4th vaccine dose for everyone if needed, officials warn

The U.S. does not have enough funding to purchase a fourth COVID vaccine dose for every American should the shots be deemed necessary, The Washington Post reports Tuesday, per Biden administration officials. 

Though the White House has enough doses to cover a fourth shot for Americans over age 65, as well as the initial recommended regimen for kids under 5, "officials say they cannot place advance orders for additional vaccine doses for those in other age groups, unless lawmakers pass a stalled $15 billion funding package," the Post writes.

"Right now, we don't have enough money for fourth doses, if they're called for," White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients told Andy Slavitt on an upcoming podcast episode, per the Post. "We don't have the funding, if we were to need a variant-specific vaccine in the future."

It has yet to be determined whether a fourth dose will even be needed, but officials warned they'd need to move preemptively if that were the case, rather than wait until the time comes. For that to happen, the funding from Congress is required.

"Vaccines don't just appear when you snap your fingers and say, 'Okay, I want the vaccine.' We've got to make it," said one senior official. 

"If their policy goal is to have enough doses available to provide a fourth dose to everyone," confirmed Jen Kates of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, "there are not enough doses purchased. They will run out of supply." She said the administration would need to purchase approximately 750 million more doses to cover all Americans.

Officials are also concerned vaccine manufacturers will prioritize orders already in the pipeline from other countries, thus delaying shipments to the U.S., per the Post. Read more at The Washington Post.