Last year, the U.S. government had high hopes to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of December. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances, the U.S. vaccinated fewer than 3 million people—far short of their target.
As cases remain high throughout much of the U.S., pressure mounts for vaccination efforts to ramp up dramatically.
Peter Hotez, professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development estimates that in large metro areas 10,000 people per day for the next 8 months need to be vaccinated in order to stay on target.
Currently, we are nowhere near that number or near the 1 million people per day needed to be vaccinated across the U.S. during that time frame.
Although the situation at present is worse than any of us had hoped, there is reason to be hopeful that we can start heading in a better direction. Here’s some promising developments and recommendations from experts to improve the vaccination distribution.
More vaccines are likely on their way soon. Both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are expected to submit proposals to the FDA for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks. Luckily, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, neither the AstraZeneca or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine require ultracold storage, giving providers more flexibility. Additionally, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one dose vaccine, further speeding up distribution.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S., some experts have recommended prioritizing getting people the first dose of the vaccine at the cost of delaying the 2nd dose because the first dose does provide some immunity.
Federal, state, and local authorities need to continue to push messaging surrounding vaccine safety and efficacy so the public is ready and eager to get vaccinated.
Stabilize vaccine supply chain. There is a delicate logistical dance at play with vaccine distribution – you need to have vaccines and arms to put them in. The federal government has promised to release nearly all available doses in the coming weeks and to prioritized stabilizing the supply chain.
Let’s face it, vaccinating hundreds of millions of people is no easy feat and the traditional ways, say at a pharmacy or from your health care provider, may not be able handle the sheer volume. The federal government has recommended that states expand locations where vaccines can be distributed, including mass vaccination sites.
Hopefully we will see improvement with the vaccine rollout in the coming weeks. As we work toward getting COVID-19 under control, experts stress the importance of continuing to take precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing to slow the spread.
Until next time, stay vigilant, and let's do everything we can to stop the spread.
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