(CBSDFW.COM) - In a letter to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 czar, Republican congresswoman Beth Van Duyne urged better communication with state and local leaders about vaccine supply and planned deliveries.
The letter follows Van Duyne's visit to three vaccination sites in North Texas last month where she met with local officials about their challenges with the first six weeks of distribution.
"But the overarching message I am hearing from state and local leaders is that the lack of consistency and communication from their federal partners has handicapped their distribution efforts," Van Duyne wrote in the letter to Jeff Zients.
Van Duyne said Thursday she was pleased to hear states may start getting up to three weeks' notice of planned shipments, which Gov. Greg Abbott told CBS 11 News in an interview this week.
She praised the local efforts so far, highlighting the state being the first to administer one million doses, but suggested more could be done with more support.
Limited vaccine supply, liability concerns for volunteers and financial considerations over the costs of the distribution sites remain a concern for local governments, she said. Many are trying to figure out resources for a distribution effort expected to last for months. However, a substantial portion of initial CARES Act dollars have already been spent or designated for other needs.
She expressed frustration though that those concerns are not what colleagues in Washington are spending time talking about.
"We've had impeachment discussions. We've had insurrection discussions. We've had a lot of political theater discussions," she said. "But the things that I've seen back home are not what I've seen on the agenda in D.C."
Van Duyne's full letter can be read below:
Thank you for your commitment to leading our country's COVID-19 response and recovery during such a critical time for our nation. The past year has presented unprecedented obstacles to American workers, families, and businesses and I look forward to working with you and the Biden Administration to address the various challenges Americans are currently facing with bipartisan solutions.
Each day, Americans lives are being lost to the invisible enemy. President Donald Trump and his administration accomplished what many claimed was impossible by launching Operation Warp Speed to accelerate the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, resulting in a vaccine being delivered five times faster than any similar effort in history. In addressing the tragic loss of lives and the disastrous effects the pandemic has had on our economy, it is critical that Congress and the Administration work together to ensure states and localities have the resources and support needed to adequately distribute and deploy COVID-19 vaccines.
On January 14, 2021, Texas was proud to become the first state in the nation to administer one million COVID-19 vaccines. Shortly after our state surpassed this milestone achievement, I had the opportunity to tour COVID-19 vaccine distribution facilities in all three counties across my district – Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant – to hear from local leaders on the challenges these counties are facing in terms of vaccine distribution. It is unbelievable what they have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time but, from my conversations with folks on the ground, it is clear that greater support and communication is needed to ensure vaccine distribution efforts are successful in serving North Texans.
Each county is approaching vaccine distribution in a unique way that accommodates the needs of their residents. However, the constant fluctuation of vaccine supply from week-to-week has taxed their resources and posed significant challenges to planning a timely, effective COVID-19 vaccine roll-out strategy for the nearly one million Texans remaining on their waitlists. Despite lack of supply and notice, local leaders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have risen to the challenge and built the infrastructure needed to deliver tens of thousands of vaccines per day. But the overarching message I am hearing from state and local leaders is that the lack of consistency and communication from their federal partners has handicapped their distribution efforts. It is my hope that you will prioritize efforts to remedy communication lapses by ensuring vaccine distributors have ample notice of vaccine deliveries and have the flexibility to vaccinate patients in accordance with state and Federal directives.
We must do everything we can to open our economy back up while protecting the health and safety of our fellow citizens. Ensuring every American who wants a vaccine has access to a vaccine is a critical component of achieving that goal.
If I can be of assistance to you or your team as you work to combat this pandemic, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Beth Van Duyne
Member of Congress
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