Federal officials need to bolster the nation's ultra-cold storage infrastructure ahead of the distribution of a potential COVID-19 as soon as next month, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday said.
Gillibrand in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wrote that the federal government needs to provide a detailed guidance for the chain of supply, funding projects, and other risks with transportation and storing vaccine doses.
“As we receive encouraging news about a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, we must strengthen the infrastructure needed for its storage and distribution," Gillibrand said.
“This administration has dragged its feet from the beginning of the pandemic and a delayed approach to vaccine preparedness will cost the American people. The federal government has a duty to proactively work with state and local governments, particularly in underserved communities, to guarantee the vaccine will reach those who need it the most. Failure to adequately prepare our communities will have tragic results.”
A vaccine will likely require two doses over the course of several weeks and be stored at cold temperatrues in order to remain effective.
Democratic officials in recent weeks have raised concerns with a vaccination distribution plan that would rely heavily on private-sector pharmacies. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has blasted the federal government's plan for vaccine distribution, arguing it could exclude poor communities and people of color.
Gillibrand's letter, written with Senate Democrats, urged federal officials to coordinate with state, tribal, and local officials for finding limits in ultra-cold storage capabilities, especally in rural and urban areas.