US to expand coronavirus vaccination eligibility

The United States is planning to release supplies of coronavirus vaccines reserved for second doses as part of an effort to speed up vaccinations of wider groups.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the policy shift on Tuesday.

Azar said the government will stop holding back the required second doses and deliver them to state authorities.

He said he will recommend that states begin vaccinating people aged 65 and older and those with underlying conditions. Healthcare providers and residents at elderly care homes have already been given priority.

Releasing the second doses could disrupt vaccination schedules. But Azar said the administration is confident about supply from manufacturers.

Vaccinations started in the US last month. As of Tuesday, about 27.7 million doses had been distributed, and more than 9.3 million people had received their first shots.

Some states are running low on doses as well as manpower to handle them.