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Officials fear COVID-19 vaccine doses stolen

State officials are sounding the alarm over the possibility of COVID vaccine doses being stolen or vandalized, prompting senior Defense Ministry and National Guard officials to discuss how best to protect supplies that could end the pandemic.

According to three senior administration officials, states have raised concerns about the safety of these vaccine shipments with their federal counterparts. But military officials say stockpile protection is likely to prove to be a business for states. Although officials say the integrity of medical supplies is normally a cause for concern, the COVID-19 vaccine has presented new challenges, especially as the country is battling some of the numbers of positive cases, hospitalizations and the highest death rates since the pandemic. has begun. Interpol warns there could be an “attack” of fake COVID-19 vaccines or stolen from organized crime groups.

“You will see states using the National Guard for security purposes because the guard is good with volume,” said Juliette Kayyem, the Obama administration’s assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the Department of Homeland Security. “States are going to want the vaccine to be protected against a black market or anti-vaxxers that want to destroy it.”

“States will want the vaccine to be protected against a black market or anti-vaxxers who want to destroy it.“

– Juliette Kayyem

Conversations about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine at senior levels of administration come as officials working in the federal government prepare to distribute the first batch of vaccine to states. Frontline health workers and residents of long-term care facilities will receive the first set of doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The federal government has partnered with retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to residents of long-term care facilities.

Officials say the disbursement could come as early as next week after the Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the emergency use of Pfizer. And security concerns have grown, state and local officials say, now that the country will receive far fewer doses of the vaccine in the first wave than initially expected. Local communities can experience significant shortages, according to a review of more than a dozen national vaccine distribution plans.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has previously called in her state’s National Guard to help distribute the vaccine. Citing safety concerns, officials at Whitmer’s office told the Daily Beast they are refraining from disclosing to the public additional details about which hospitals or local health departments are receiving shipments of vaccine, how many doses they would receive and when shipments are expected. For the same reasons, a hospital in Wisconsin said it would not release any information to the public about the facility’s ongoing vaccine distribution until the first wave of frontline health workers were vaccinated. .

Despite conversations about vaccine safety and President Donald Trump touting the military’s involvement, administration officials argue it will only play a logistical role in the distribution of the vaccine.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans will receive a vaccine that no federal employee, including the Department of Defense, has touched,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services , during a telebriefing last month. .

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