How will the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed?

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As we progress into the winter months, and people stay indoors longer, this likely means the Coronavirus will be easier to spread. We are in need of a vaccine and fast. Luckily, the government has received doses of the vaccine. Now it’s just a matter of distributing the vaccine to the rest of the nation. The question is, how is the distribution process going to work?

First of all, it’s important to understand how much each state is being affected by the virus, because that could change how they are distributed. Currently, according to the CDC COVID data tracker, states like California, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee are the states with the most cases in the last seven days. Meanwhile, states like Vermont, Montana, Washington, Minnesota, Wyoming and Oregon have the least amount of cases in the last seven days. 

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With the knowledge of which states are affected by the virus the most and least, now we can determine how the government is going to distribute the vaccine. It is ultimately up to the state governors to determine how they want to distribute the vaccine. According to the CDC, it is recommended that the vaccine should be distributed in phases. The first phase would include healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. The second phase includes frontline essential workers and people who are 75 years or older. The final phase includes people who are between 65-74 and people who are 16-64 with underlying medical conditions, along with other essential workers. Following these phases, the vaccines would then be administered to the rest of the population not covered in these tiers.

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Despite the CDC’s recommendation on how to distribute the vaccine, not every state will choose to follow the recommendation. For example, Florida is not following the recommendations but is instead using a first come first serve method, while trying to prioritize the elderly and healthcare workers. While some people might agree with this method, others may disagree with this method either because of Florida’s decision to not follow the CDC’s recommendations or because they don’t like the distribution process. According to a CNN article from December 30, 2020, a man named Bruce Scott arrived at the vaccination site at 1:30 a.m. and waited in a line for about 8 or 9 hours to get vaccinated, saying, “Although I’m grateful to get the vaccine, I feel that there’s got to be a better way to distribute this.” He later adds, “For people that really need it, elderly that might be disabled in some way, they can’t endure this process, so there’s got to be a better way to manage this.”

The Trump administration expected to vaccinate about 20 million people by the end of December. However, only about 1 million people were vaccinated in December, that’s about 19 million short of the goal. So far in 2021, as of January 11, approximately 9 million Americans have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and according to officials, the hope was that 50 million Americans would have been vaccinated by the end of January. It looks pretty unlikely that America will reach that expected goal.

President-elect Joe Biden spoke about his 100 day COVID response plan on December 29th. 

On January 20th, Joe Biden will be inaugurated into office as the 46th President of the United States. As he inherits a system that is behind in distribution, it’s going to be interesting to see how well he sticks to his 100 day challenge to turn the tides on the pandemic. It’s expected that Biden will follow the CDC’s recommendations for vaccine distribution, but the question is: Is he going to distribute them as quickly as he says he will?

Sources:

Andrew Gonder is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class