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Where Do Vaccine Doses Go, Who Gets Them? The Algorithms Decide

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Vaccinations have a long way to go.

U.S. public health experts say the algorithm used to allocate coronavirus vaccines has increased the burden for many states.

Credit: Mark Pernice

Trump administration officials last year formulated a Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan that has an algorithm divide shots nationwide based on each state's adult population, after which states would allocate doses to local hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics.

However, public health experts said the algorithm has compounded states' burden, requiring multiple delivery plans for weekly Moderna and Pfizer vaccine quotas, even if different shipments are going to the same facilities.

Algorithmic formulas generally follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that prioritizes frontline healthcare workers, nursing home residents, seniors, and those with major health risks for inoculation.

Yet vaccine access is widely uneven because federal agencies, states, local health departments, and medical centers each follow different allocation formulas, based on various ethical and political considerations.

Rutgers Law School's Ellen P. Goodman said algorithms were necessary for efficient allocation, but public agencies and health centers should be transparent about prioritization formulas.

From The New York Times
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