US Vaccinations Lag While New COVID-19 Variant Leads to Shutdown

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Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Initially, U.S. officials predicted that as many as 20 million Americans would be fully vaccinated before the end of 2020. And while that many vaccine doses were distributed, only a fraction of them have been administered.

The federal government has given states control over distribution plans which has led to different systems with differing levels of success. In one Florida county, Julie Glenn of member station WGCU reports on the haphazard vaccine rollout that has led elderly residents to camp out in tents to get their first shot.

As vaccinations lag behind schedule, a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus is spreading in many countries, including the U.S. The new variant isn't thought to be more deadly, and scientists believe the vaccines currently being administered will work against it. Additional good news is that masks and social distancing will still slow the spread of the new variant.

Additional reporting this episode from NPR's Allison Aubrey, who's reported on the slow start to vaccinations; and from NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff, who's reported on the new coronavirus variant. Reporting on the vaccine rollout at the state level came from Will Stone in Seattle, Nashville Public Radio's Blake Farmer, and WBUR's Martha Bebinger.

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

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