PI Editorial: Use this time of vaccine scarcity wisely
The success story of the COVID-19 vaccination might be proceeding quietly, but we’re hopeful it can end with a collective cheer soon.
Among all states and Washington, D.C., Colorado currently ranks 15th highest for its percentage of vaccines distributed in comparison to all of the vaccines it’s currently received. In total, about 130,1455 vaccines have gone into the arms of frontline workers and those at highest risk of severe complications, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
It’s clearly good that Colorado is within the top 20 for states when it comes to distribution, but we shouldn’t be satisfied at 15th. Effective and rapid vaccine distribution is critical to finally turning the corner on the pandemic. It’s the best form of protection available for our elderly and those with preexisting conditions, but it’s also key to bringing the economy back to full speed.
In Garfield County, our public health workers have worked hand-in-hand with Valley View and Grand River hospitals to not only immunize our critical health care workers but also begin immunizations for our residents 70 or older.
Unfortunately, interest has been so high that our hospitals suspended their wait lists last week. That’s in large part due to the availability bottleneck we currently face.
“Vaccine shipments to counties are still not predictable, and in most cases lower than the numbers needed or ordered, but they are coming,” County Health Specialist Carrie Godes said.
Locally, there’s little we can do to help on that front, but we can still use this time to build upon the plans we already have to ensure an effective and rapid ramp-up in immunizations when they become more available.
We trust and appreciate our hospitals taking lead on offering vaccination sites currently, but we also can’t help and wonder if we could expand immunization sites as ability allows — much in the same way we’ve increased testing sites countywide.
There are clear hurdles to such plans — the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at -100 degrees — but there are success stories of this being done successfully elsewhere. Perhaps no other nation in the world has been as successful in rolling out vaccinations as Israel, where mass vaccination sites have been just one strategy leading to nearly 60% of its high-risk population already receiving the shot.
What would Colorado have to do to get similar results?
We don’t know the answer to that question, but we’re hopeful our health care professionals will use this time of scarcity to plan for better days ahead.
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