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America’s COVID-19 vaccine effort is ‘total chaos,’ should add first come, first served option, vaccine expert says

The U.S. kicked off a second phase of its COVID-19 vaccine campaign on Monday, when health care workers and others at the top of the tiered system began getting their second and final doses of the vaccine. But the rollout of the inoculation effort has been “slow and uneven,” The Associated Press reports, “marked by confusion, logistical hurdles, and a patchwork of approaches by state and local authorities.”

The Trump administration set a goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by Jan. 1, but as of Jan. 4, only 4.5 million had gotten their first shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, out of 15 million doses distributed. There is some resistance to getting vaccinated, but much of the problem seems to be logistics, Politico reports. States are simply struggling to match vaccine shots with the people who want and are qualified to get them. The effort has also been hampered by ineffective communication plans, the lack of any meaningful national outreach and education campaign, and a fractured, sagging health care system.

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“It’s total chaos,” Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Politico. “It’s increasingly looking like we had a plan that was well-suited to vaccinate Singapore.” The U.S. needs to inoculate about a million people a day to get the pandemic contained by September, and Hotez said America won’t get those numbers under the current plan. He told Politico the U.S. should scrap its tiered system and supplement the doses shipped to nursing homes and hospitals with mass vaccination venues, like sports stadiums or outdoor tents, where anyone who wanted the vaccine could show up for a shot. “That is in the works in some states,” Politico notes.

The U.S. needs to “get the vaccine in people’s arms,” Hoetz said. “The only other choice is to continue with 3,000 deaths a day.”