Hard-working health departments doling out vaccines

A logistically complex undertaking is underway, unlike anything most of us have ever seen.

As I am writing this editorial, I am scheduled to get round 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is available in our area for healthcare workers and persons age 65 or older. I am supposed to drive to a school down from my office tomorrow at 12:50 with a mask, a short-sleeved shirt, my driver’s license, and my optometry license in order to get stuck. I hear that it is a drive-up setting, and the process will take about 20 minutes.

The process essentially involves getting on the phone. We called our health department a lot. Sometimes the phone would just ring and ring. Sometimes the call wouldn’t go through likely due to high volume of calls. Sometimes we would get through to someone who said he would transfer us, then the phone cut off. Then, my father finally got through to someone who said she could schedule us. I ran back to the back of the office and got on his phone because he wasn’t able to sign up other people.

People getting the vaccine must personally answer all the questions:
Are you a healthcare worker?
Who is your employer?
What’s your name and date of birth?
Have you tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in the past 2 weeks?
Have you ever had a severe reaction to a vaccine?
Are you currently under quarantine?
Are you pregnant or nursing?

So, it would be easy to blame the local government and the health department for it being so difficult to get through. However, that’s not my mindset. I can’t imagine how hard our local health departments are working right now to get people vaccinated in a timely fashion.

Such a logistically complex undertaking is unlike anything most of us have ever seen. There is just no way to be totally prepared for something like this. What about the cold temperatures for vaccine storage? How many people who are eligible for the first rounds of the vaccine will refuse it? What about those who have appointments and don’t show? There is so much going on, I have faith that my local health department is doing its best, and I will be patient with the process.

Should we have been in a state of widespread preparation for the rollout of these vaccines when we got word that trials were headed for Phase 3? Of course. If anything like this happens again, we will have learned a great deal from these circumstances. That is no fault of our local health departments, and I look forward to giving a heartfelt thanks when they come up to my driver’s side window.


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