States and counties are getting more experienced in knowing what is required to get the COVID-19 vaccine into arms. However, due to the fractured and underfunded health system of the US, distribution has been varied. This has led to wide disparities in rates of vaccination across the different states.
The government has come up with innovative schemes to try and get as many people as possible vaccinated. They have created vaccine navigators.
States Look For Ways To Administer COVID-19 Shots Amidst Chaos In Circulation
They have sent letters to all senior citizens. 24-hour hotlines have been set up. They have even gone so far as cold-calling citizens to sign them up. Still, the disorder has been observed in the distribution
Barry Bloom, an immunologist and the former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, observed that this was a function of the chaos of 50 state health systems in an unresponsive, underreported, and uncoordinated system to the federal government. Though it’s crazy, this was the American way.
A map of vaccination in the USA displays a broad range across the country. Alaska was at the foremost position with 23% of its population receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This was closely followed by New Mexico at 22%.
Georgia and Utah were at 12%. Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas were at the lowermost end with their rates at 13%. This was the scenario as of Monday. Experts noted that it was remarkable how states and counties found ways to make this work, despite all the variables.
There are several reasons for the successes as for the failures of successful vaccine drives.
Dr. Bruce Gellin, the president of Global Immunization for the Sabin Vaccine Institute pointed out that leadership mattered. He said, ‘the capability to draw people together, question them with hard questions and empower laborers to solve problems were particularly of value for subsequent success’.
Gellin added that the regions that have fared well have had frequent meetings where decision-makers were a part of it. Due to this, there was no waiting for authorization from the officials in high places. In certain cases, officials have met many times a day to determine out what was working, what wasn’t, and what needs were changing.
West Virginia has done well. The state has one of the nation’s highest rates of poverty, despite this 18% of its population has been vaccinated and has steadily been in the top tier for immunization.
Retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer is the man running West Virginia’s Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines. He said that having support at the top level was one of the secrets to the success of his state.
The state opted out of a federal program that required the use of CVS and Walgreens to enable vaccines to be sent to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where the majority of deaths were noted to be happening. Hoyer told Gov. Jim Justice that large national chains wouldn’t be a good fit in West Virginia, as more than 50% of the pharmacies in the state were independent.
Permitting counties to tailor their immunization drive approaches has been beneficial. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Nye County in Nevada, compiled a call list of all of its senior citizens, in order to check in on them.
Then, once vaccinations started being distributed, the county used the same call list to call everyone and ensure they had signed up for it. Though there are exceptions, in general, smaller and more rural states have performed better than several large, urban ones.
Yet another huge challenge for states has been the need to balance equity and speed. Most states have found it challenging to dispense vaccines equitably because of the difficulties faced in transportation, internet service availability and other social issues. These factors make it more difficult for low-income people to get access to online reservation systems and mass vaccination sites.
In some counties, contact tracers are being retrained as vaccine navigators to assist people in registering to be immunized. This effort is set to ramp up this week in Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco.
The vaccine eligibility group is also set to be broadened to comprise essential workers in child care and education, agriculture and foodservice, and emergency services workers, Dr. Sarah Rudman said. She is the public health director for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.