As President Biden steps into his role, many will focus on his coronavirus response. While President Biden has already made sure to order and acquire enough vaccine doses for Americans, his administration is still working on a plan for distribution.
The federal government under President Trump did not create a hierarchical structure for vaccine distribution. Instead, individual states have had to make decisions for vaccine distribution. Unfortunately, local officials were not equipped to organize their own distribution. In fact, the New York Times noted, “The biggest problem so far has not been a lack of vaccine, but the difficulties that state and local governments face in distributing the doses they have. Capacity and logistics, not shortages, are keeping vaccines from being administered” (1).
COVID-19 vaccines are an extremely vital resource right now, yet many doses are going to waste. NPR reported, “the Ohio Department of Health suspended a vaccine provider in Columbus after nearly 900 doses spoiled before they could reach residents in long-term care facilities” (6). However, Nature magazine stated that the crux of this problem is the fact that “most vaccination centers did not receive guidance on how to allocate unused doses left over at the end of the day” (3).
President Biden has promised a more active federal response. Of course, this is an ever-changing situation and any proposed plan is subject to change. Through the process, he plans to listen to science.
President Biden plans to administer vaccines as they come, instead of saving some vaccines for a second dose. He wants to administer as many vaccines as possible, having vaccination centers in high school gymnasiums and stadia run by federal staff, volunteers, emergency staff, and others. As vaccination appointments open up for online scheduling, residents are still struggling to secure appointments. Although Illinois has prioritized the elderly and essential worker, securing a vaccination remains difficult for many and leaves the elderly to compete with more the tech savvy.
Some experts believe that having more people vaccinated is the best course of action against the pandemic. By administering more vaccines, society will more quickly develop herd immunity.
There are, of course, complications and criticisms surrounding this approach. Scientists have found that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were most effective when the two doses were taken around a month apart. Not much research has been done into how quickly the efficiency wanes with just one dose of the vaccine.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist affiliated with Georgetown University, stated, “There is no dispute that second doses should be administered sometime near the first dose. ‘They key is to expose the immune system at a time when it still recognizes the immunity-stimulating ingredients in the vaccine’” (5). Delaying doses worries some members of the medical community.
Some experts believe that spreading the vaccinations out among people rather than having less people have two doses would be better. Some argue that some vaccines should be saved for a second dose. But it is important to remember that the second doses are just being delayed, they will still be given. The Biden administration has ordered millions of vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna. Steps are being taken for the best of the health of the majority of people. Now, with a Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccination available, the United States hopes to increase its vaccination effort.
Every plan for distribution has its drawbacks, but a plan founded on science and backed by health officials will be the best to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
https://joebiden.com/covid-plan/ (2) – An official plan from President Biden’s page
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-19-vaccine-doses.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article (4) – See how many vaccines are being sent out in your state