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COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

By February 15, 2021August 20th, 2021No Comments

With millions of people waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the roll-out process has been hectic and confusing in many places. State governments are currently responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccine and each state is taking a different approach as to who can get the vaccine and when. That being said, the CDC has made some recommendations for government officials to follow. Here’s what you need to know. 

The CDC recommends that the vaccine is rolled out in phases:

Phase 1a: During the initial rollout phase healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities were recommended as the first to receive the vaccine because of their increased risk. The first vaccine dose in the United States was given on December 14, 2020. 

Phase 1b: The next stage of Phase 1 recommends vaccinations for people aged 75 or older and for frontline essential workers. Essential workers may include firefighters, police officers, food and agriculture workers, and educators. Each US state is defining what ‘frontline essential workers’ means for its vaccine rollout.

Phase 1c: This phase should cover the rest of the essential worker pool, people aged 65 to 74 years of age, and people 16 to 64 years of age that have underlying medical conditions which compromise their health. Each state is defining what job roles make up ‘essential workers’ and what medical conditions are considered high-risk.

Phase 2: Phase 2 is recommended to include people in high-risk settings, including working or living in homeless shelters, prisons, or jails. This phase should also include people working in schools or child-care facilities and anyone with moderate-risk existing conditions.

Phase 3: Phase 3 recommends everyone not covered in earlier phases get vaccinated, including people of all ages and children.

As these phases are rolled out, the hope is that the COVID-19 vaccine will become more readily available, allowing everyone to easily get one by Phase 2 or 3. 

Every state has been given a certain amount of vaccines and can’t move on to the next phase until more vaccines are available. About 150 million people are eligible for the vaccines in the current phase according to CDC recommendations.

Some states have been more efficient at the vaccine rollout than others, though the metrics vary. Though states like California, Texas and Georgia are all in the top 10 for total doses given to citizens (from 1.5M to 6M per state) they are behind if tracked by the total of their allotment used. States with smaller populations, like West Virginia, Utah, North Dakota, and New Mexico, who have all used over 90% of their allotted vaccine doses. Some states like Georgia and California, have only used 70% of what they have been given, but have vaccinated as many total people as 5 or 6 of the smaller states combined in the same period. 

Originally, rural areas were expected to have a disadvantage in administering the vaccine, but it seems like big city areas are having a harder time keeping track and effectively administering Phase 1’s vaccines. A common issue in high population areas is not having enough trained personnel to administer the vast number of vaccines required daily. Overall the US has vaccinated 15% of its population as of February 15th, 4th worldwide. This amounts to roughly 52 million people, the most total vaccines administered in the world to date. Currently the US is vaccinating an average of more than 1.6M people each day, 25% of the total daily world vaccine doses administered.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require patients to receive two doses spaced a few weeks apart to get full protection, so those who get one dose are guaranteed a second one. As states grapple with a shortage of vaccines, the idea of delaying the second dose so that more people can get their first dose has been suggested. The CDC recommends that everyone who gets the first dose should get the second one as close to the recommended interval as possible, and the effects of waiting too long are uncertain.

Pfizer and Moderna have pledged to deliver 200 million doses by the end of March and have committed to supply another 100 million doses by the end of July. At the end of January, Biden announced the purchase of additional doses that would increase the number from 400 million to 600 million doses, which would hopefully be able to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer. The actual manufacturing and administering of the vaccine may not occur on time because of the numerous obstacles and difficulties. Unfortunately, until we know more, everyone must wait for the vaccine until they are eligible and there is an increased supply. 

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