The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the United States has not been uniform due to the lack of involvement by the federal government and a reliance on plans devised by individual states. The criticism stemming from the states’ programs is mainly based in technical glitches, including website crashes and scheduling errors, but also includes focusing too much on CDC recommendations for vaccination priorities (which slowed the phases and thus the vaccine distribution) and relying too much on counties or pharmacies.
Criticisms of Vaccination Programs
- In Massachusetts, “lawmakers, experts and residents” criticized the vaccine rollout in January, declaring the sign-up process for the vaccines to be “cumbersome and confusing“, per NBCBoston. Dr. Anna Nagurney was among the critics who said that a state known for its information technology prowess should have made it smoother. “We have some of the smartest brains when it comes to IT, OK?” Nagurney said. “Why wasn’t this done properly? Why wasn’t it planned? Why don’t you make it easy for many people?”
- Georgia had distributed the least amount of its vaccines (less than 20 percent) as of January 14 according to the CDC. The problem was attributed to technical glitches with websites crashing and others scheduling for vaccinations as much as four hours before the vaccination site opened, reports CBS News.
- Virginia was among the states with the slowest rollout, in part due to its strict adherence to CDC guidelines for front line healthcare workers to be vaccinated first. Virginia initially decided to delay vaccination phases in an effort to focus on these workers.
- California’s rollout of the vaccination was similarly slowed by technical glitches, per the publication Government Technology. Per Dr. Michael Wasserman, both software systems that were used are “fraught with technological problems” that prevented residents from signing up and did not have adequate customer service in place to assist them.
- Maryland state officials blamed a lack of shots for their slow rollout (which was among the slowest in the nation); per the Brookings Institute, however, the slow rollout was due to the state relying on counties to administer the vaccine. Online registration sites were created by hospitals and by counties without uniformity or a reliable rate of success.
- Arkansas had a slow rollout due to an untested distribution network, per Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The state’s plan involved more than 200 pharmacies, which was a mistake, per Dr. Patterson.