Christina Nunnally was driving to work when she heard on the radio that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week.
As the chief quality officer for a network of primary care clinics in northern Mississippi, Nunnally knew she had just the rest of her 30-minute commute to formulate a plan for how her doctors would tell patients the news, reshuffle their schedule and ensure people kept coming in to get vaccinated. Vaccine delivery at North Mississippi Primary Health Care had already “not been a cake walk,” Nunnally says. Mississippi has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the country, and has some of the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy, according to the CDC. “Back in January and February, we had huge demand and we couldn’t get any vaccine,” she says. “Now, we have vaccine and it’s hard to be able to get it out to patients as quickly as we would like.”
Similar situations are playing out in other rural areas, particularly across the southern and western United States, which create added challenges to achieving herd immunity, or the point at which enough of the U.S. population is vaccinated that life can return to some semblance of normal. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the President’s chief medical adviser, has tentatively put this number at 85%. The country is trending in the right direction. The White House said Wednesday that over 133 million Americans—at least 50% of the adult population, including 81% of seniors—have received at least one shot.
But getting the citizens most hesitant about the vaccine to take it may prove to be the most difficult barrier to reaching herd immunity. For President Joe Biden, who has largely staked the success of his first year of office on getting to that point, this next phase represents a particular challenge. Partisan divides in vaccine hesitancy are stark, the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine complicated delivery in rural areas, and many Americans are inherently skeptical of any messaging push from the federal government.
“Our objective is to reach everyone,” Biden said on Wednesday in a speech about the state of the country’s vaccination efforts. “We have the vaccine to deliver.”
To increase vaccine distribution, the …read more
Source:: Time – Politics