U.S. faces nitrile glove shortage ahead of national COVID-19 vaccination effort

In hospitals, medical clinics, and doctor’s offices across America the need for personal protective equipment, or PPE, has not waned since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to CBS News.

Requisite items including N95 respirators, gowns, and nitrile gloves have seen dramatic price increases since March as demand surged and supply levels lagged. A result of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

In a November report to Congressional committees, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found the national stockpile of gloves dropped from 16.9 million in December 2019 to 2 million in October 2020.

The glove shortage comes as Operation Warp Speed, the national effort to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to every American, is preparing to distribute 600 million doses should the Food and Drug Administration authorize emergency use.

In addition to the vaccine, the federal government said it will provide healthcare workers administering the vaccine with an ancillary supply kit that includes needles, syringes, alcohol prep pads, surgical masks and face shields. The kit does not include medical gloves.

The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the “Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have not typically required gloves to be worn when administering vaccines unless the person administering the vaccine is likely to come in contact with potentially infectious body fluids or has open lesions on the hands. In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, gloves should be worn when administering intranasal or oral vaccines.” The CDC notes that if gloves are worn while administering a vaccine the healthcare worker should change them between each patient and observe proper hand-washing hygiene.