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Health Care

Why Such a Discrepancy between the State Vaccine Dose Figures and the CDC’s Numbers?

Governor Andrew Cuomo adjusts his mask during an event in New York, October 12, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Following up today’s Morning Jolt, there is a bizarrely vast discrepancy between the number of doses that the CDC says New York State received and the number of doses that the state government says it received. Whenever you have two different authorities updating separate datasets and websites differently, they are likely to be updated at different times and have some modest difference in the figures. But New York’s reported shipments are a half million fewer doses than what the CDC recorded.

According to New York State’s vaccination-data website, the state received 1,304,050 first doses of the vaccine, and 564,600 second doses, for 1,868,650 total doses.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the state received  2,395,950 doses.
The CDC says New York received almost 2.4 million vaccine doses.
That’s a gap of 527,300 doses! Yes, one dataset might be updated faster than the other, but a half a million doses is an awfully big update. And for what it’s worth, New York’s dashboard says it is “updated daily with data as of approximately 11 am the same day.” The CDC says its data are current as of January 24. There shouldn’t be a discrepancy of this magnitude.

Other states have much more understandable discrepancies. The state of New Jersey vaccination-data website does not track and update the number of doses received, but does track the number of doses administered — 565,401 as of shortly after 9 a.m. this morning. That’s not too far from the 535,625 on the CDC website, as of this morning.

The state of California’s vaccination-data website says that as of January 17, “a total of 3,226,775 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems that have facilities in multiple counties.” The CDC figures for the amount of doses distributed California are updated to yesterday afternoon, January 24, so we would expect the CDC numbers to be higher. But 1.67 million doses higher? The CDC says California received more than 4.9 million doses.

Maybe when the California state website updates its figures, those numbers will be closer together. The state website says it had administered 1,393,224 doses as of January 17, and as you can see above, the CDC says California has administered almost 2.2. million. (If the CDC’s figures are accurate, California is averaging 115,000 vaccinations per day.)

There’s no crime or malfeasance in a state’s set of numbers lagging behind that of the CDC. But these are some massive differences in the numbers, and that might explain certain state or local officials contending that they’re on the verge of running out, while the CDC’s figures suggest they have a significant number of doses waiting to be used. Then again, certain state or local officials might be looking for a scapegoat to distract from their own bad decisions.


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