Surgeon General: Low State, Local Funds May Be Delaying Vaccinations

Surgeon General: Low State, Local Funds May Be Delaying Vaccinations adams in a black uniform in the wh press room Surgeon General Jerome Adams (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 31 December 2020 12:11 PM

Lack of state and local funding may be the reason for the slower-than-expected rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday.

"I used to run a state health department," Adams said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "People forget that. We've always underfunded public health going back several decades, so chronically we need to continue to fund state and local public health better."

So far, two million vaccinations have been completed, falling far short of the 20 million doses the Trump administration said would be done before the end of the year.

"There are vaccines manufactured," said Adams. "There are vaccines allocated and delivered, and then there are vaccines put in arms. … From a federal perspective, we are on track to have 20 million people able to be vaccinated, doses on the ground, by the end of next week."

Adams said that it's always been known that the vaccines would take a while to wrap up, and it has only been 17 days since the Food and Drug Administration approved them on an emergency use basis.

"What people should be most excited about is that the curve is rapidly increasing in terms of the number of people being vaccinated, so we shouldn't extrapolate from what happened yesterday to what's going to happen six months from now," said Adams.

He also called for the federal government to continue supporting state and local health departments, and to understand that the vaccines will continue to work even with cases of a mutated strain of the coronavirus starting to show up in the United States.

"A more contagious variant means it's more critical we follow basic health measures, wash your hands, watch your distance, and wait to gather," said Adams. "I know you sacrificed much this year. We don't want to trip at the finish line."

He also called on Americans to hold their New Year's Eve gatherings virtually.

"We want to have a normal new year next year and want as many loved ones and family and friends to be able to enjoy it in 2021," he said. "The way we do it is by pulling together and sacrificing one more time to ramp up the vaccinations and put the virus away for good."