LANSING, Mich. — With the COVID-19 vaccine potentially just days away from starting to get distributed here in the USA. There are growing concerns that getting the vaccine to people may not be a smooth process. As Maya Rodriguez tells us some say a more national approach to that may be needed.
Federal officials say the key component to getting the COVID-19 vaccine distributed across the country – will lie in the hands of states with help from major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens.
Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services Secretary “we want to replicate what the experience you have with the flu vaccine -- convenient to you, a tried-and-true system that we do hundreds of millions of vaccines through every year. that's the backbone of the approach we're taking.”
But if flu vaccine rates are any indication that backbone may not suffice. Doctor Eric Schneider is with the commonwealth fund, an independent organization that studies health policy. They recently delved into previous vaccination rates to see how it might unfold for COVID-19.
Dr. Eric Schneider of The Commonwealth Fund: “our health care system does well at developing new technologies like these vaccines, which are really quite amazing, scientifically speaking, but we don't do as well and making sure those technologies are distributed to the people who need them most, and we're seeing that in the prior vaccination experience – and I’m worried we will see that with COVID-19.
”What did they find? A mere 51% of Americans got the flu vaccine last year and only 38% of people got the H1-N1 swine flu vaccine ten years ago which had a similar vaccine development timetable and pressure much like COVID-19.
Those low vaccination rates matter because in order for the COVID-19 vaccine to create herd immunity in the USA between 70 to 90% of all Americans will need to get vaccinated. Dr. Eric Schneider, the commonweath fund “the concept of herd immunity really is develops out of vaccination programs because the question is ‘what proportion of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent the circulation of a virus in the population?’” and just getting that shot could vary depending on where you live.
As the federal government is leaving that up to each state. Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services Secretary: “that's going to be up to the nation's governors as they prioritize within their states,” but Dr. Schneider says in order for the states to pull it off they’re going to need federal help.
Dr. Eric Schneider of the Commonweath Fund: “states are in incredible difficulty right now with their budgets and they need federal support. Congress is considering a federal rescue package and that funding is really necessary to get states the support they need to vaccinate large numbers of people.”
Large numbers of people now waiting for a rescue of their own from a virus that’s changed everything.
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