COVID-19 Vaccination Challenges

Three of the main challenges in COVID-19 vaccine rollout faced by the US states are distribution planning, supply shortages, and lack of qualified vaccinators.

1. Distribution Planning

  • According to McKinsey, planning and systems are key constraints to vaccine rollout across the US, which currently surpasses the supply challenge.
  • Similarly, experts from Pennsylvania Hospital believe that the US lags behind some other countries in terms of vaccine rollout, because states didn’t prepare distribution strategies before vaccines became available.
  • States are also ineffective in distribution planning due to making plans and designing systems that are not suited to the reality of the pandemic, fragmented health systems, and unreliable federal guidance. The issue is more significant for big states like California.
  • For example, as of February 2, California has only used 60% of its vaccine doses. 40% of Californians believe that the state is doing a poor or very poor job with distributing the vaccine, while only 22% are satisfied with how it is being done.
  • Connecticut is trying to mitigate the challenge by implementing an age-based system for vaccine distribution.
  • Instead of prioritizing essential workers and people with underlying health conditions, the eligibility is based almost solely on age. The only group that will be able to vaccinate regardless of age consists of pre-K-12 school teachers and professional childcare providers.
  • The system is supposed to make it easier to determine who is allowed to get a vaccine, thus saving time and resources on determining the eligibility.

2. Supply

  • As stated by NBC, the insufficient supply of vaccine doses is the main obstacle to fighting the pandemic in the US.
  • Similarly, a research paper published in Annals for Internal Medicine includes supply constraints as one of the three major challenges to vaccine rollout in the US.
  • For example, Pennsylvania had to reschedule 100,000 vaccination appointments because of the insufficient supply.
  • Also, according to Diana DeGette, a politician from Colorado, “the most pressing challenge now is the lack of supply of vaccine doses.”
  • The Conversation believes that effective supply monitoring and preregistration system are some of the ways of dealing with supply shortages. While they can’t increase the supply, they minimize problems with administration and help maintain people’s trust.
  • Two states that have top-notch preregistration systems are West Virginia and Minnesota.
  • State health systems (including the one in Alabama) are also prioritizing low dead space syringes, which allow extracting one additional dose from a vial.

3. Lack of Qualified Vaccinators

  • According to NBC, vaccine supply challenges may be resolved quicker than the lack of qualified vaccinators.
  • The sentiment was voiced by members of the COVID-19 taskforce, who state that the US needs more vaccinators and should mobilize more health units.
  • Multiple counties, including those located in Florida and California, had to close their testing sites to be able to operate vaccination sites, in part due to medical staff shortages.
  • In Maryland, there has been a shortage of healthcare workers even before the pandemic. However, the vaccination campaign emphasized the issue.
  • So far, the state is relying on people working after hours and hiring “travel nurses.” Still, the solution is considered short-term.
  • Additionally, California is discussing a deal with dentists and optometrists to give them permissions to administer vaccines.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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