WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is set to announce it will encourage states to begin vaccinating people who are 65 or older and people with certain preexisting conditions in an effort to accelerate the nation’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The administration also announced it plans to send the vaccine to more places, including community pharmacies and smaller health practices. It plans to free up as many doses as it has available in order to boost supply, a major roadblock to sending the vaccine to more sites.

The administration’s previous policy was to hold back half of its supply to ensure people who received one shot would be able to get access to their second, but officials now argue manufacturing is reliable enough that people getting a first dose now should be able to get a second dose later.

The policy shifts are a concession by the administration that it fell far short of its goal to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of last year, in part due to planning lapses. That target was already revised down from a promise made last summer to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of the year, and again scaled back last fall from 40 million people by the end of the year.

So far, about 25 million vaccines have been distributed, while 9 million shots have been administered, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

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