COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Tracker: Week of March 8

Editor's note: Below you'll find release of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Tracker originally published March 9, 2021. Visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Tracker homepage for the latest data.

A third COVID-19 vaccine has entered the scene. Over the past week, Johnson & Johnson’s recently-authorized vaccine has made an impact on the total number of doses available to Americans—even if the rate of people actually getting vaccinated hasn’t changed much.

The federal government delivered nearly 20 million vaccine doses to the states between last Monday and Monday, March 8—the largest week over week increase we’ve seen yet. While the Biden administration had already stated it would raise the number of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines shipping out to the states during the month of March, the 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine distributed last week were a major factor in the total increase,

Is Supply Outpacing Demand?

This additional supply is great news. The bad news is that we’re seeing a slight decrease in the percentage of those doses being administered. During the last two weeks of February, about 79% of the vaccines delivered by the government were making their way into arms. Now, we’re back down to 77%—the same rate as mid-February. 

This lag poses an important question: Does the country have more vaccines than people who want them? Or are vaccination efforts just not as efficient as they could be yet? 

Verywell’s Vaccine Sentiment Tracker suggests the latter. The number of our survey respondents who say they plan to get the vaccine or have gotten the vaccine is increasing. And those who were previously undecided are becoming more likely to say they will be vaccinated when a shot is available to them. 

Sixty-three percent of respondents are either vaccinated or would agree to be vaccinated, compared to 56% when we launched the survey in December.

A Centralized Registration System Makes a Difference

While the majority of Americans say they’ll get a vaccine when it’s available to them, confusion about who is eligible and how to register is still a major problem. The states who are actively working to streamline registration are emerging as leaders when it comes to using the doses they have. 

Take New Mexico, for example. The state, which was the first to implement a statewide vaccine registration portal, has been working its way up the list of states and territories that are most efficiently vaccinating their eligible populations. Today, it is second only to Alaska.

The states that rely on county-level registration are not faring as well. Places like Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah are deferring to county health departments for vaccine registration. Each of these states’ vaccination efforts lag far behind the rest of the country.

This discrepancy suggests that a centralized vaccine registration portal is key to a successful rollout. When the state health department takes charge, there’s less confusion about who is eligible and how to sign up.

On the other hand, local, community-centered approaches work better when it comes to administering vaccines. For the past few weeks, we’ve seen the impact local pharmacies—both chain and independently-owned—can have on boosting vaccination rates. Mass vaccination sites don’t seem to be achieving the same effect.

What's the Outlook?

The introduction of a third vaccine, paired with an increase in available doses, has helped bump up the timeline of vaccinating a meaningful percentage of the United States. Based on this week’s progress, if everything stayed the same, the country would be on track to vaccinate 70% of its population by mid-August. Last week, the projection was late September.

Why 70%?

While there’s still no clear percentage of the population necessary to reach herd immunity for COVID-19, 70% is a good place to start. Herd immunity refers to the protectiveness achieved when a significant portion of a population develops immunity to an infectious disease, either through vaccination or having a prior illness. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, used to say 60% to 70% of the population needed to be vaccinated or recovered to reach herd immunity, his projection has evolved to range from 70% to 90%.

Herd immunity is a complex calculation that relies on both past infections and number of people vaccinated. Because the World Health Organization emphasizes herd immunity should rely on vaccination and not disease exposure, for the sake of projections, our numbers focus on the time it will take to hit 70% through vaccination alone.

Data by Amanda Morelli/Adrian Nesta

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.

  3. The White House. Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

  4. Cohen A. Vaccine sign-up struggles highlight state and federal challenges. Roll Call.

  5. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Herd immunity, lockdowns and COVID-19.

By Anisa Arsenault
Anisa joined the company in 2018 after managing news surrounding fertility, pregnancy, and parenting for The Bump. Her health and wellness articles have appeared in outlets like Prevention and Metro US. At Verywell, she is responsible for the news program, which includes coverage of COVID-19.