Vaccine Update: Far From Smooth Sailing

After months of anticipation, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are now being distributed throughout the country. But it’s not all smooth sailing. Read on to learn more about some of the challenges in distributing the vaccine…

By Alex Berkman

The biggest vaccination campaign in history is currently underway. In the US alone, over 21 million doses have been administered, and on average, 1.06 million people are now being vaccinated each day (Bloomberg). With that being said, vaccine distribution has not gone nearly as smoothly as these statistics may suggest. To start, the vaccination schedule has proceeded unevenly across the country, with states like California and Texas having vaccinated a much smaller fraction than Arizona and New York. Hospitals, pharmacies, and institutional health care centers have also had difficulty obtaining the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively. And of course, most people are still left asking “when will I receive the vaccine?”

Naturally, the people who should receive the vaccine first are those most at risk of exposure. Therefore, in Phase 1a, the first group to be vaccinated includes all healthcare workers, specifically nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, and pharmacists. The second group are residents of long-term care facilities, specifically nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. These individuals, who live communally and have underlying conditions, are more at risk of both getting COVID-19 and becoming severely ill with it. 

After these initial groups are vaccinated, Phase 1b will begin. Notably, in New York, Phase 1b is already underway. This includes a much larger scope of individuals, namely public transit workers, teachers, people ages 65 and older, and all first responders. Elissa Weinhoff, an Armonk resident and volunteer EMT at the Armonk Fire Department, received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine on January 24. Elissa was “extremely grateful for being vaccinated” and described her experience as an “emotional moment.” Elissa, though, did experience difficulties registering for her second vaccination. This, in combination with recent reports of hospitals not being equipped to provide both doses, is especially concerning since the vaccine is only fully effective if the second dose is also administered. Joanna Lewick, an AP US History and AP Human Geography teacher at Byram Hills, has recently received the vaccine as well. Selfless as she is, Mrs. Lewick is just “happy to be less of a risk to those around [her].” 

While all age 65 and older individuals are now eligible for the vaccine, many have had difficulty registering. This can most likely be attributed to an unfamiliarity with navigating the internet. In response to this challenge, many young people have taken an active role in helping their older family members sign up. In local news, the town of Greenburgh will launch a new program called COVID Vaccine Angels to help seniors register to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Hundreds of volunteers, each with the same goal of aiding the most vulnerable, have already signed up to be “Vaccine Angels.” The concept seems feasible , so it will be interesting to see if other towns take up a similar initiative. 

Though it is frustrating for some to be unable to receive the vaccine yet, it is essential that we all remain patient. We must remain committed towards staying the course. Because if we do, we will defeat COVID-19. It’s only a matter of when. And even though distributing the vaccine is clearly not a perfect science, each day over a million more people are protected than the day before. Now maybe it’s just me, but that alone sounds like a victory in itself.