The United States is ending 2020 far behind on its COVID-19 immunization goals, and many health officials are growing frustrated with the bumpy start to the vaccine rollout.
Just about 2.8 million Americans thus far have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, below the government’s goal of vaccinating 20 million people in December, Reuters reports. The final number of vaccinations for the year will ultimately end up well below this goal “even allowing for a lag in the reporting of data,” HuffPost writes.
One key issue in the rollout, The New York Times reports, is that “federal officials have left many of the details of the final stage of the vaccine distribution process, such as scheduling and staffing, to overstretched local health officials and hospitals.”
“We’ve taken the people with the least amount of resources and capacity and asked them to do the hardest part of the vaccination — which is actually getting the vaccines administered into people’s arms,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told the Times.
Joshua Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, similarly told HuffPost that this “slow start” is the “result of insufficient support and belated attention to the nitty-gritty of getting the vaccines from the freezers into people’s arms.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a Friday interview called the slow rollout “disappointing,” adding that state governments need “many more resources.” What’s especially concerning, experts also told the Times, is that the next wave of vaccinations could actually be more challenging than this one.
“These problems are still correctable,” Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government senior lecturer Juliette Kayyem told HuffPost. “It’s really important that we not rush to judgment about how this is going. It’s also really important we fix the problems as quickly as possible.”