Because of this, the administration was initially holding back those second doses in case there were manufacturing disruptions after the first dose was given.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, appearing at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the opening of a mass-inoculation site, said Azar and Vice President Mike Pence had committed on a conference call this week with governors to releasing a vaccine reserve that Newsom said had included some 50 million doses stored in MI.
Azar said it was a change to reflect new confidence that COVID-19 vaccine production would be reliable. Azar, at a Tuesday briefing, said, "Because we now have a consistent pace of production, we can now ship all of the doses that had been held in physical reserve".
By the federal government's count, the 10th-most populous state had 3,647 shots administered per 100,000 residents, before Friday. The belief of many in state governments was that the federal government would be able to suddenly ramp up distribution with the new directive.
"The reason that the Trump administration is listening to us and doing what we asked them to do, and the fact that the incoming Biden administration is talking to MI so frequently, tells me that people are seeing that we are moving fast, and that we are a state that needs to be consulted because we're getting a lot of things right", Whitmer said. "Give us the ability to buy what is sitting in a freezer in Portage, Michigan, so we can get shots in arms".
Azar said then that the administration was confident enough in the supply chain to release its stockpile, and urged states to use the additional supply to open inoculations to everyone aged 65 and over.
27 in the nation in COVID-19 vaccines administered per 100,000 residents as of Friday, Jan. 15, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Yes, we have had some governors that are overly prescriptive and restrictive in the groups they're trying to get vaccines out to", Azar told Holt.
Lester Holt confronted Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on NBC Nightly News Friday about issues with the coronavirus vaccine rollout. That decision followed a letter sent to Azar from Whitmer and eight other state governors asking to tap into the reserves.
As the U.S. presidency changes hands on Wednesday, one of the Trump administration's remaining Cabinet members will officially remove his own name from the payroll.
Also referring to the January 6 Capitol violence, Azar said in the letter: "Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration. The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United State of America first brought to the world", Azar wrote to the president.
"I implore you", Azar told Trump in the letter, "to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence, to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the (President-elect Joe Biden's) inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere".