SALEM, Ore. - State health officials who were expecting a big boost in coronavirus vaccine doses from the federal government next week will likely be disappointed: reports say the stockpile that Operation Warp Speed pledged to release this week does not exist.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown confirmed reporting from The Washington Post when she said the state won't be receiving increased shipments. She said she got the news directly from Gen. Gustave Perna, who leads the Operation Warp Speed accelerated vaccine program.
"There is no federal reserve of doses," Brown tweeted Friday morning. "Oregon’s seniors, teachers, all of us, were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.
"This is a deception on a national scale."
When vaccine rollout began in December, the federal government released the first doses but kept the second doses in reserves to ensure people who got their first shot would also get their second. The two vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. - the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines - both require two shots.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that they were releasing the reserves in an effort to speed up the frustratingly slow vaccine distribution across the country. But according to The Post and Governor Brown, there is no reserve to ship.
States are still getting their regular supply, and the disruption is not expected to impact second doses for people who've already received their first shot. HHS officials confirmed that the remaining stockpile was shipped out last weekend, before Azar made the announcement.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Brown in calling for answers from the Trump administration.