Why is there so much confusion over the vaccination at the federal, state and local level? | Q&A with Dr. Manoj Jain – Commercial Appeal

This week Dr. Jain tackles your questions regarding the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and how Shelby County plans to give it out.

Question: Why is there so much confusion over the vaccination at the federal, state and local level?

Answer: The covid vaccine effort has many moving parts and moving targets. They range from vaccine availability to human behavior of vaccine acceptability, not to mention the distribution, storage and urgency to vaccine. 

What are the moving parts and moving targets?

The availability of vaccines to states has been increasing and decreasing as much as 40% at varying times, making it difficult for states and local officials to adequately plan vaccination scheduling.

The vaccine distribution, due to storage requirement only allows certain providers such as hospitals to give out certain vaccines. Acceptance among health workers and front line workers varies at each hospital and at neighboring counties hence they may be vaccinating a different group than Shelby County. 

While there is concern at the national level that some vaccine doses may be wasted. Locally, no vaccines are being wasted.

What is our vaccination plan? 

The state has a phased program based on those who are at high risk such as health workers and those who are at particular age groups such as over 75 years old. Based on availability of the vaccine it is being offered to varying groups. Details of the state plan is on the website. I would encourage everyone to see what phase they fall in and to know when to expect to be vaccinated.

At the initial stage there will be a larger demand and lower supply, however soon there will be lower demand and large supply. The phase approach will prioritize when there is a lower supply.

How will I know when it is my turn to get vaccinated?

For daily updates check the Shelby county website www.shelby.community.  Here the health department will report which groups are eligible and which are being vaccinated. Also people will have links to where they can register. 

Will local pharmacies be distributing the vaccine?

Yes, local pharmacies will be immunizing people, when vaccine supply are readily available to those in the respective phases. At present some pharmacies are doing vaccinations only at nursing homes for high risk persons.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

Yes. The concern is not that there will be enough vaccines for everyone, but rather that enough people will  not be willing to take the vaccine. In all over 600,000 residents in Shelby county need to be vaccinated for us to reach herd immunity. 

Lastly, though the vaccine distribution has been slow, we need to rest assured that vaccine distribution is fair and equitable. We just need to be patient with the initial stages of the roll-out.

Source: Commercial Appeal