WASHINGTON — Two Washington, D.C. grocery shoppers picked up an incredibly rare impulse item at checkout this week: a coronavirus vaccination.
Law student David MacMillan and a friend were at a Giant Food supermarket on New Year’s Day when a pharmacist flagged them down and asked if they wanted to receive the miracle COVID-19 shot as supply problems persist across the nation.
MacMillan uploaded a video of himself receiving the newly-approved vaccine on TikTok and explained that two first responders scheduled to receive the Moderna vaccine had missed their appointments.
“She turned to us and was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got two doses of the vaccine and I’m going to have to throw them away if I don’t give them to somebody. We close in 10 minutes. Do you want the Moderna vaccine?’” MacMillan said.
“I’m just super grateful for this opportunity,” he went on.
The coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna must be transported and stored at minus 70 Celsius and minus 20 Celsius and can only be kept at room temperature for several hours before they spoil.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended states provide the drug to first responders, essential workers and at-risk populations including seniors in nursing homes first.
The decision to immunize Capitol Hill lawmakers and more than a thousand of their “critical” staffers while seniors and healthcare workers continue an agonizing wait has created a political maelstrom in Washington with several representatives refusing to take the shot out of fear of jumping the line.
Concerns about supply and local distribution persist even as more versions of the COVID-19 vaccine continue receiving emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
On Monday, Moderna announced that it would ramp up production in the hopes of producing one billion doses of their vaccine this year.
But getting the drug to the American public is not progressing at the rate government officials had forecast.
Officials had hoped to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of December.
But only 4.5 million shots have made their way into people’s arms through state and local government distribution, according to CDC data.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the top advisor of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine distribution plan, on Sunday conceded the rollout needed to improve and pinned the blame on state leaders.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday also acknowledged that the US needs to play “catch up,” admitting: “We are not where we want to be.”