Groups Working Together To Ensure People Of Color Gain Access To COVID-19 Vaccine.
USA Today (1/18, Hassanein, Alltucker) reports, “As states open vaccinations to those 65 and older and those with health issues that put them at greater risk of serious illness, groups nationwide are strategizing grassroots efforts to ensure access for people of color who have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.” This “process has proven to be a struggle, and early findings show states that rank high on COVID-19 vulnerability indexes are falling behind on vaccinations.” The article says, “A coalition of diverse nonprofits, each focusing on specific racial and ethnic groups, formed the One Community Campaign, an outreach effort to reach and educate at-risk populations about the virus and the vaccine through campaigns on radio, billboards and print and digital fliers in multiple languages.” The piece mentions HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Minnesota Governor Announces Program To Vaccinate Teachers, Child Care Workers Against COVID-19.
The AP (1/18, Ibrahim) reports Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) “announced a pilot program on Monday to vaccinate teachers, child care workers and individuals over 65 as the state aims to expand its coronavirus vaccine rollout amid concerns of a limited supply of doses from the federal government.” Minnesota “officials will open nine community sites this week to vaccinate adults over 65, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educators, school staff and child care workers.” The pilot “program expands distribution efforts beyond the first high-priority group that includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff, who began receiving doses last month.” The AP adds that “in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Walz, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers urged the administration to purchase more doses in the coming weeks to ramp up distribution in their states.”
Washington Post (January 18)
D.C.-area residents expressed new frustrations Monday over how to access the coronavirus vaccine, as the pool of eligible recipients grew and the available supply was far outstripped by demand. More than 1,400 new vaccination appointments in the District were snapped up in 25 minutes, city officials said, while people who were newly eligible in Maryland and parts of Virginia also struggled to get appointments.
Pasadena, California Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility To Senior Citizens.
The Los Angeles Times (1/18, Xia) reports “Pasadena has joined Long Beach as Los Angeles County cities that have expanded coronavirus vaccinations to senior citizens who are not living in nursing facilities.” On Saturday, Pasadena “offered sign-ups to city residents age 75 and older who had filled out a form expressing interest in getting the vaccine.” Within two hours, “reservations filled up...for the roughly 800 doses that will be available Tuesday and an additional 1,000 to be administered on Thursday at Victory Park.”
Los Angeles County Official Directs County Authorities To Make COVID-19 Vaccine Available To Residents Aged 65 And Older.
The Los Angeles Times (1/18, Xia) reports that “amid widespread confusion over when and how senior citizens can get the coronavirus vaccine, Los Angeles County supervisors are urging that people 65 and older be inoculated immediately.” Late Monday, “in an executive order...Hilda Solis, chairwoman of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, directed county health officials to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to residents 65 and older beginning Thursday.” She “said a website and call center to make appointments will be announced before Thursday.”
California Counties Begin Vaccinating Residents Over 65.
The Los Angeles Times (1/17, Shalby) reported on the difficulties experienced by “many Californians 65 and older who tried to figure out how to get the coronavirus vaccine.” California “announced last week that it was opening up vaccinations to older people. But it soon became clear that, in many counties, those shots were going to be in short supply in part because there were still many medical workers and first responders in line ahead of them.” While “some people 65 and older did get vaccinated at retail stores ... many others could not find a location offering appointments.”
Analysis: COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Hampered At The Final Stage.
The Wall Street Journal (1/17, Findell, Hopkins, Frosch, Subscription Publication) reported distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses has outpaced administration. CDC data show over 30 million doses have been distributed, but only 12 million have been administered. There are difficulties at the local level, such as problems in identifying those who should be vaccinated and getting the doses to them.
USAToday: COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Should Focus On Speed, Flexibility.
USA Today (1/17) wrote in an editorial that “the vaccine rollout is being hamstrung by unnecessary bureaucracy and complexity.” USA Today added that according to the CDC, “of the 31.2 million doses distributed as of Friday morning, only 12.3 million had been administered.” USA Today suggested “emphasizing speed and flexibility over rigid adherence to complex categories,” and calls for the “federal government working more closely with states and localities, not simply dumping doses on them.” USA Today praised the Trump Administration for having “wisely urged states to vaccinate people 65 and older.” USA Today concluded, “Where supplies are sufficient, inoculation ought to be a 24/7 process.”
West Virginia Leading US States In Administering COVID-19 Vaccine Doses.
The AP (1/17, Dil) reported, “West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in” the US’ “otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents against the virus that has killed over 395,000 Americans.” More doses have been administered “per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data.” It was the first state in the country “to finish offering first doses to all long-term care centers before the end of December, and” it “expects to give second doses at those facilities by the end of January.” The article said HHS Secretary Alex Azar has lauded West Virginia’s efforts to vaccinate seniors.
Newsweek (1/17, Czachor) also covers the story.
Some Michigan Residents Jumping The Line For Coronavirus Vaccine Priority.
The Detroit Free Press (1/17, Shamus) reported, “Some Michiganders are jumping to the front of the line for coronavirus vaccines – putting themselves ahead of the state’s most vulnerable.” Loopholes in the process “have enabled younger, healthier less at-risk people to get vaccinated ahead of elderly people...and front-line workers.” The article mentioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Said To Be Marked By Confusion.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/17, Mamula) reported on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout saying that state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine last week “said...that she would adopt” HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s recommendation to lower vaccine eligibility to those 65 and older. The article said this “will jam more than 1 million people to the front of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccination line at a moment when the lumbering public health campaign is already marked by confusion, shifting priorities, a dearth of vaccine and – in some places – people to administer it, authorities say.”
Vaccinations Of Residents In Long-Term Care Facilities Going More Slowly Than Some Hoped Or Expected.
The New York Times (1/16, Robbins) reported that “in mid-December,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar “floated an enticing possibility: All nursing home residents in the United States could be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Christmas.” However, the Times said, “It turned out to be a fantasy,” and “vaccinations of some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens are going more slowly than many state officials, industry executives and families expected.” CVS and Walgreens “have already given out more than 1.7 million vaccine doses at long-term care facilities,” though “thousands of assisted living facilities...do not yet even have an appointment for their first visit.” HHS spokesman Michael Pratt “said Mr. Azar had been speaking only aspirationally about what states were capable of doing, since they had enough vaccine doses to cover all nursing home residents by Christmas.” Still, “a growing number of governors and state health officials have voiced frustration with CVS’s and Walgreens’ speed.”
Reuters (1/15, Baertlein, Beasley) reported that Dr. Joe Thompson, former Arkansas surgeon general, “is sounding alarms about the pace of coronavirus vaccines being administered to residents of long-term care facilities under a U.S. plan that puts major pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens in charge of many of the shots.” Thompson said, “We’re seeing a failure in deployment by CVS and Walgreens.”
Multiple Health Conditions Tied To Worse COVID-19 Outcomes Not Included In Philadelphia’s Next Vaccination Wave.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (1/16, Laughlin) reported “cystic fibrosis, asthma, dementia, hypertension,” Addison’s disease, and liver disease are not included in Philadelphia’s “list of high-risk conditions that would make those with them eligible for” COVID-19 vaccine “doses in the next wave of vaccination,” despite the fact that “there is evidence, federal authorities said, that each may be associated with worse outcomes in COVID-19 patients.” As of “right now, there are no plans announced for when people with those conditions could be vaccinated.” For this reason, “fear of their vulnerability to the virus has restricted the lives of the people with those conditions.”
Medical Facility In Arizona Holds Large Community COVID-19 Vaccination Event Focused On Elderly Population On The Navajo Nation.
The Arizona Republic (1/16, Silversmith) reported on “the first large community [COVID-19] vaccination event held by” Tséhootsooí Medical Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona, which “provides health care services on the Navajo Nation under a federal 638 contract.” Jarom Prows, director of support services and incident commander for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at TMC, said, “We wanted to focus on our elder population (who are) some of the most vulnerable” people. Health officials “chose to offer” the vaccine “to elders age 75 and older first so they could control the number of vaccine doses administered.” Vaccine distribution “on the Navajo Nation continues under a plan led by the Navajo Nation Department of Health in collaboration with the Indian Health Service and tribal health organizations.”
Washington Post (January 16)
DC opened vaccine appointments to people 65 and older. Here’s what some seniors went through to get the shot.
Marcus felt like one of the lucky ones — she was able to score an appointment a day after the District began vaccinating people 65 and older. But it wasn’t easy. The first several times she finished filling out the online questionnaire, and found a location that had an available appointment, it disappeared before she could click to secure it. But she pressed on, excited to get the vaccine so she could soon safely visit her 9-month-old grandson in New York City.
Opinion: Los Angeles County’s Vaccine Rollout Must Include Vulnerable Residents.
In a Los Angeles Times’ (1/16) “Letter to the Editor,” an Encino, California resident criticized Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, saying “the new mass-vaccination site at Dodger Stadium opened Friday with only a smattering of recipients, yet our elderly parents and grandparents, at highest risk of dying without a vaccine, are not yet allowed to be vaccinated.” The letter concluded that the county “is dealing with unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients, and yet we are denying vaccination to our most vulnerable residents. It doesn’t take a virologist to understand that hospitalization and mortality rates will quickly drop as our older population is immunized.” The Times also included a letter from a Carlsbad resident criticizing vaccine remarks by HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
California Officials Failed To Quickly Deliver COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Vast Majority Of Long-Term Care Residents, Data Show.
The Los Angeles Times (1/15, Dolan) reported that “as public health officials scramble to clear a backlog of unused COVID-19 vaccine by opening the process to anyone 65 or older, new data show they failed to quickly deliver shots to the vast majority of California’s most vulnerable residents, who were supposed to be the priority.” As of Sunday, just “about 5% of long-term care facility residents in the statewide vaccination program – including people in skilled nursing homes and assisted living centers – had been vaccinated, according to California Department of Public Health data obtained by The Times.” Although “the vaccines became available in the U.S. in mid-December, only 3% of California facilities in the program had been scheduled for their first visit from a vaccination team as of Sunday, the data show.”
Oregon Governor Postpones Vaccination Dates For Older Residents.
The Oregonian (1/15, Green) reported Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) “laid into the federal government Friday, blaming its ‘empty promises’ to increase COVID-19 vaccine shipments as the reason she is postponing the date older Oregonians will be eligible to get vaccinated by two to five weeks.” The article added, “Instead of opening vaccinations to all residents ages 65 and older starting Jan. 23, as she announced days earlier, Brown said she’d now allow Oregonians ages 80 and older to start vaccinations Feb. 8, followed by ages 75-plus on Feb. 15, 70-plus on Feb. 22 and 65-plus on March 1.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar, “responding to Brown’s comments during an interview on NBC News, suggested Brown failed to listen to information his agency provided and was out to score political points: ‘Every piece of data about this is completely transparent.’”
Maryland Expands Eligibility For COVID-19 Vaccinations, But Available Doses Remain Scarce.
The Baltimore Sun (1/15, Miller) reported “the plan to implement Maryland’s new policy enabling adults 65 and older to start getting inoculated for COVID-19 lacks critical details that officials and experts say could hamper the ability to ensure all those who want the vaccine can get it anytime soon.” The new “guidelines, announced Thursday by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan,” allowed “adults 75 and older, as well as teachers and some others, to start getting vaccinations Monday, with people 65 and older becoming eligible the following week.” However, “the number of available vaccine doses, vaccinators and appointments remains scarce in this state and across the country as the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation and demand for vaccinations soars.”
Some States Report Issues With Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine Through Federal Pharmacy Partnership.
Kaiser Health News (1/15, Bluth, Weber) reported on “the federal pharmacy partnership, which has deputized pharmacy teams from Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate nursing home residents and workers” with the COVID-19 vaccine. In West Virginia, “the state opted against the partnership largely because CVS/Walgreens would have taken weeks to begin shots and Republican Gov. Jim Justice wanted them to start immediately, said Marty Wright, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association.” Meanwhile, “in Illinois, about 12,000 of the state’s roughly 55,000 nursing home residents had received their first dose by Sunday, mostly through the CVS/Walgreens partnership, said Matt Hartman, executive director of the Illinois Health Care Association.” Although “Hartman hopes the pharmacies will finish administering the first round by the end of the month, he noted that there’s a lot of ‘headache’ around scheduling the clinics, especially when homes have outbreaks.”
Online Vaccine Sign Ups Complicating Process For Older US Adults.
The AP (1/15, Nieberg, Naishadham) reported that as states “roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 and older, senior citizens are scrambling to figure out how to sign up to get their shots.” The AP added that “glitchy websites, overwhelmed phone lines and a patchwork of fast-changing rules are bedeviling older people who are often less tech-savvy, may live far from vaccination sites and are more likely to not have internet access at all, especially people of color and those who are poor.” Almost “9.5 million seniors, or 16.5% of U.S. adults 65 and older, lack internet access, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Access is worse for seniors of color: more than 25% of Black people, about 21% of Hispanic people and over 28% of Native Americans 65 and older have no way to get online.”
CDC Guidelines Make Smokers Eligible For Coronavirus Vaccine Along With Those Over 65.
CNN (1/15) reported, “Federal guidelines recommend that smokers under the age of 65, considered high-risk for severe Covid-19 symptoms, be eligible for the vaccine in early phases of distribution, frustrating essential workers lower in the priority line.” CNN added that both “New Jersey and Mississippi are currently offering the vaccine to smokers under the age of 65,” while “other states have included smokers among those next in line.” The decision by New Jersey and Mississippi “is in line with federal guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control that place smoking on a list of conditions ‘that cause increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.’”
The Washington Post (1/15, Salcedo) reported that under New Jersey’s expanded access to the coronavirus vaccine, “anyone 65 or over can now get the shots, as well as those between 16-64 with certain medical conditions.” Included among the conditions are “the state’s roughly 2 million smokers, who can now get the vaccine before teachers or public transit workers.” According to state officials, smokers “run the risk of experiencing more severe covid-19 symptoms,” and they also say they are following CDC guidelines.
Biden Unveils COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan Which Focuses On Older Americans, Minority Communities.
The Washington Post (1/15, Gearan, Goldstein, McGinley) reported that “Joe Biden pledged to put Americans 65 and older near the front of the line for coronavirus vaccines and to expand the number of vaccination sites to quickly make up for the Trump administration’s bungled response.” On Friday during a speech outlining his COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, Biden said, “We’ll manage the hell out of this operation.” He “laid out his plan to speed up vaccinations by focusing on people who need them most at a time when covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have reached record levels.” Biden also announced that NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins would continue his role in the Biden Administration.
On its front page, the New York Times (1/15, A1, Stolberg, Thomas) reported that Biden, “racing against a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant that could worsen the crisis, is planning a vaccination offensive that calls for greatly expanding access to the vaccine while using a wartime law to increase production.” Biden said “we remain in a very dark winter.” He added that “the honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better.” The article mentioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
USA Today (1/15, Alltucker) reported that Biden said “his administration will add clinics, bolster the public health workforce and invoke a wartime production law to ensure adequate vaccine supplies in order for Americans to get 100 million COVID-19 shots in the first 100 days of his administration.” During “his first detailed discussion of his vaccination plans a day after unveiling his $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, Biden said swift action is essential to reverse the ‘dismal failure’ of the nation’s vaccine rollout that’s left millions of doses in storage during the deadliest stretch of the coronavirus pandemic.” His “team has identified suppliers who could be tapped under the federal Defense Production Act to prevent potential shortages of glass vials, stoppers, syringes and needles that could delay getting shots in arms.”
The Los Angeles Times (1/15, Levey) reported that Biden “described a sweeping initiative that includes funding for community vaccination centers and other ways to expand access to shots, invoking the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of vaccines and supplies.” The article said this “all-out federal effort is a departure from the Trump administration’s mostly hands-off approach, which has left it to states and localities to decide how to allocate and administer the vaccines, just as it shirked responsibility for testing Americans for the coronavirus.”
The AP (1/15, Alonso-Zaldivar, Barrow) reported Biden’s plan focuses “on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments.” Biden said, “Almost a year later, we’re still far from back to normal.” He “seconded the Trump administration’s call...for states to start vaccinating more seniors, reaching those 65 and older as well as younger people with certain health problems.” Hitherto, “states have been focused on inoculating health care workers, and some are starting to vaccinate people 75 and older. Relatively few are providing shots to people between 65 and 75.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (January 14)
Hospital and nursing home workers in Missouri are choosing to delay getting the COVID-19 vaccine—and that’s raising concerns
Whitfield is among a significant number of hospital and nursing home staff not taking advantage of their priority status to get the vaccine despite their important role in caring for patients and setting an example for others to follow.
Grand Herald Forks (January 13)
The South Dakota Department of Health announced its updated vaccination plan, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, which will shortly move to offering vaccinations to seniors and high risk individuals — a group designated 1D. While the state will start age-based vaccinations with those age 80 and older, the group will be expanded to those age 65 and older as vaccines come available.