Student Opinion: Officials Struggle to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine Efficiently

(AP Photos)

By Michelle Moreno Lira

Despite COVID-19 numbers rising daily, governors have not acted quickly enough to begin distributing to other qualified parties. Many governors have vaccines lying around in warehouses close to expiring and still haven’t developed successful plans despite public pressure.

Governors from the U.S. were given a significant number of vaccines, yet after a number of healthcare workers received the doses, further instructions weren’t provided. This can prove dangerous in the future because cases are rising in great numbers and millions of Americans have yet to receive a vaccine.

This should be extremely concerning since most of these Americans are also frontline workers and face a significant risk of contracting the virus. In December, the government promised Americans that 40 million doses would be distributed and 20 million would be vaccinated. As of January, around 21 million doses have been distributed and close to 5 million Americans have been vaccinated

The governors have failed to develop an action plan to ensure more people have access to the vaccine. There are growing concerns for ICU capacities in hospitals, and many of them are refusing ambulances because they don’t have enough resources to treat patients. Many Americans who don’t qualify for the vaccine in the first three phases are part of the individuals suffering the most from the virus.

As someone who might be one of the last ones to receive the vaccine, it’s infuriating that government officials have received the vaccine yet aren’t prioritizing the people they’re serving. While I understand who is a priority during vaccine distribution, I also believe that individuals with lower socioeconomic status continue to make up many of those infected. 

People in lower socioeconomic communities continue being affected by the virus and are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Most of them aren’t within the first millions to get the vaccine and are waiting anxiously. These individuals see the toll within their communities, with daily cases centered around them and a vaccine that might not come within these months.

Most states have received the virus but are moving incredibly slow and haven’t decided who gets the vaccine first or who will distribute them. I don’t think states have the privilege to take their time in creating effective plans for their citizens. The government should demand that states begin distribution effective immediately. Unlike the U.S., other countries like China have developed strategies to effectively and efficiently distribute their vaccine. 

I believe the U.S. should pay attention to the effectiveness of China’s plan, aiming to vaccinate around 50 million people by the next month by making use of anyone qualified to distribute the vaccine before it’s even approved. The U.S. approved the vaccine quicker than China yet failed to make sure all the moving parts knew their positions. 

Amidst the rush to approve the vaccine, the U.S. failed to provide explicit instructions to each state and is facing backlash from those who have to wait months before receiving it. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has threatened to fine hospitals that don’t distribute the vaccine within a week of receiving them. Although this might sound effective initially, I don’t believe hospitals are responsible for the inefficient distribution. 

Hospitals are not responsible for deciding who gets the vaccine. First, it’s hospitals that are awaiting instructions to begin further distribution. Governors like Mr. Cuomo might try shifting the blame, but it’s they who are in charge of creating effective plans; it’s the purpose of their job. 

Many professionals hope that with Joe Biden’s inauguration around the corner, he will maintain his promise of vaccinating 100 million people within his first 100 days in office. I hope President-elect Joe Biden can successfully vaccinate millions of Americans quickly and efficiently, especially those with greater exposure to the virus.

Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.

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