Expanded vaccine rollout in US poses new set of problems
The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to seniors across the United States has resulted in bottlenecks, system crashes and grudges in many states due to the overwhelming demand for vaccines.
The Mississippi Department of Health stopped making new appointments the same day it started accepting them due to a “monumental increase” in requests. People had to wait hours to book vaccines through a state website or toll-free number on Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were kicked from the site due to technical issues and had to start over.
In California, counties pleaded for more coronavirus vaccines to reach millions of their seniors. Hospitals in South Carolina ran out of appointment slots within hours. Telephone lines have been blocked in Georgia.
“It’s chaos,” said Joan Jeffri, a New York resident, 76, who had to deal with broken hospital web links and unanswered phone calls before her daughter helped her. to get an appointment. “If they want to vaccinate 80% of the population, good luck, if that’s the system. We will be there in five years.
Until recent days, healthcare workers and nursing home patients had priority in most places in the United States. of the Trump administration, although the minimum age varies from place to place, at 65, 70 or more.
New Jersey has now extended vaccinations to people between the ages of 16 and 65 with certain medical conditions, including up to 2 million smokers, who are more prone to health complications.
The United States, meanwhile, recorded 3,848 deaths on Wednesday, up from an all-time high of 4,327 the day before, according to Johns Hopkins University. The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in the country has exceeded 385,000.
More than 11.1 million Americans, or more than 3% of the American population, received their first injection of the vaccine, a gain of about 800,000 from the day before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of inoculating between 70% and 85% of the population to obtain collective immunity and overcome the epidemic is still several months away.
The hard-hit Los Angeles County, the country’s most populous county with 10 million people, said it could not immediately provide vaccines to the elderly because it had only vaccinated about a quarter of its 800,000 health workers.
“We’re not done with our healthcare workers, and we actually don’t have enough vaccines right now to be able to do it any faster,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “We have not heard from the state on the availability of the vaccine and how it would be distributed. “
Santa Clara County health officials said the county of 2 million people only had enough vaccine to inoculate people 75 and older, not people 65 and older.
“It’s almost like a beauty pageant. And it shouldn’t be a beauty pageant, ”county supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “It’s a matter of life and death.”
In Mississippi, officials said new appointments will likely have to wait for an expected vaccine delivery in mid-February.
In South Carolina, Kershaw Health in Camden pleaded with people not to call their hospitals or doctors to schedule vaccine appointments after receiving more than 1,000 requests in two days. State health officials said their hotline received 5,000 calls on Wednesday.
Francis Clark said she made several attempts to make appointments for her 81-year-old mother, who lives alone outside Florence, South Carolina, and does not have internet access. But the local hospital had no opening on Wednesday, Clark said, and other vaccination sites are too far away.
“My mom can’t drive all the way to Charleston,” Clark said. “She’s too old.”
Allison Salerno, an audio producer from Athens, Georgia, said she spent most of the day calling her state’s health department to get her 89-year-old mother’s vaccine appointment .
“I started calling at 8:30 am and on the 67th call I was finally put on hold,” Salerno said. “I had already pre-registered it two weeks ago online, but never received a confirmation.”
After Salerno spent 65 minutes on hold, someone finally came in line and made a date with his mother on Saturday.
“My mom hasn’t been out since the pandemic started,” Salerno said. “She’s a very healthy woman and she wants to go to the grocery store, she wants to have her hair done.”
Meanwhile, some states, like Minnesota, are waiting before they open the doors.
“As we learn more, we will work to make sure that everyone eligible for a vaccine knows how, where and when they can get the vaccine,” the state health department said in an email. “The possibility for everyone to be vaccinated will come; it will just take a while.
Arizona, which had the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the country over the past week, will begin enrolling people 65 and older next week. He also plans to open a vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in addition to one that dispenses thousands of shots a day to the home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
To speed up the pace of vaccinations, South Carolina changed the rules allowing medical students, retired nurses and certain other professionals to administer the injections.
California lawmakers are stepping up pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to also extend permission for who can give injections to include nursing students, retired medical workers, firefighters and members of the National Guard having medical training.
Newsom said the state’s priority is to deliver vaccines “as quickly as possible to those facing the most serious consequences.” He urged patience for those who are not yet eligible, saying, “Your turn is coming. “
Jeffri, the New Yorker, spent several days trying to book a vaccination and was once given a slot, only to receive a follow-up text saying they didn’t have the doses. Finally, thanks to her daughter’s online sleuths, the retired arts administration professor has secured an appointment for her first shot – in two weeks.
“It’s a relief,” said Jeffri, who wrote to Governor Andrew Cuomo about his ordeal. “But I’m not sure I trust him until it’s done.”