Frustration continues to build over the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations at long-term care sites, where some homes still await first shots while fending off a virus that can devastate their residents.
Major drugstores like CVS and Walgreens have already started on a massive vaccination push in nearly all 50 states, and they say they are proceeding on schedule. However, resident advocates and experts are anxious considering the delays in delivering vaccines despite having already been available for well over a month.
“Every week that you wait and you’re not vaccinating is a big deal here. My sense is that this process is still going too slow,” says David Grabowski, a health policy professor at Harvard Medical School.
While the government has put long-term care facilities at the top of those currently receiving the vaccine, many states are slow at getting it to those who need the vaccine now.
In the U.S., “the rollout is slow and awkward and very frustrating for our population,” said Dr. Tom Kenyon, a former director of the CDC’s Center for Global Health.
Washington should be best placed to immunize its citizens, having ordered 1.2 billion doses while working hand-in-glove with pharmaceutical giants. Yet the U.S. lags behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Bahrain in shots delivered per capita.
The two biggest hurdles that the government has been trying to work have been manufacturing and distribution.
But what makes the U.S. especially troubled, according to experts, is that its health care system is not centralized, and the administration of President Donald Trump failed to build a proper national vaccine rollout plan to fill the void.
Having inherited what some experts describe as one of the best pandemic preparedness plans in the world, Trump proceeded to fire his top biosecurity adviser, allowed his global health unit to be disbanded, and downplayed the coronavirus during the crucial early weeks of the outbreak last year.
The result today is a chaotic scramble when it comes to vaccines, so this criticism goes, where states, counties and hospitals have been left to wing it on their own.
ATR News Contributing Writer Mitchell Taylor in Knoxville, TN contributed to this report.