Pressure builds on US Congress to help states with vaccine needs

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With federal health officials meeting this week to make crucial decisions about who they will recommend to get the coronavirus vaccine first, pressure is mounting on Congress to step back into the governing role that they have abdicated and strike an agreement not only on the expiring aid for struggling Americans, but also the dollars needed by cash-strapped states to ensure the vaccine is equitably and effectively distributed.

At a time when coronavirus cases are surging around the country, with the US hitting a new record for hospitalizations on Saturday, much attention has focused on encouraging news about the efficacy of three vaccine candidates, and Pfizer’s application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization — with a decision expected within weeks of a December 10 meeting of a key FDA committee.
But enormous logistical and readiness hurdles remain within the 50 states given their variations in geography and weather; the availability of doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical employees who must be recruited and trained to administer the vaccine; the need for vaccine education campaigns to reach skeptical Americans and even the variance in each state’s level of preparedness to find and vaccinate the patients who need protection the most.

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