Trump’s Warp Speed vaccination agenda is an ineffective response to COVID-19.
The Trump administration claimed that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by this month through its Operation Warp Speed distribution program. So far, Operation Warp Speed has moved at a snail’s pace. States received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines between the end of last December and early January. Given in two doses, with the second vaccination administered weeks later, by January 6, only 5.3 million Americans have been vaccinated.
“I spoke . . . with Dr. Marcus Plescia, who is the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials,” said NPR science correspondent Richard Harris in a recent interview on the network’s “Morning Edition” program. “His take is that the timetable for vaccination was largely aspirational.” The holiday season was partly responsible for the vaccines’ rollout slowdown, Harris explained that “. . . so many overstressed health care workers have been trying to grab a few well-deserved days off.”
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Against the backdrop of more than 300,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, and new COVID cases spiking in nearly every state, the Trump Administration launched Operation Warp Speed last spring. Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health-related government agencies, the public-private partnership oversees the development, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide to prevent more infections.
The “Warp Speed” part of the agency’s name comes from a term made popular by the TV and film outer space series, “Star Trek.” It describes a super speed which surpasses the speed of light. Newly invented vaccines were allocated to the states last December on an emergency basis.
While states can create their own guidelines, most of them follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for administering the vaccine to prioritized populations in phases. The first group, Phase 1(a), consists of healthcare personnel and long- term care facilities’ residents. Next, the Phase 1 (b) group includes police, firefighters, teachers, and seniors 75 and older. The last group, Phase 1 (c) consists of seniors ages 65 to 74, and people who are between 16 and 64 years old.
The numbers of people vaccinated vary widely from the Washington Post’s tracking of how many people in each state have been vaccinated.. New Jersey, for example, was allocated 619,675 vaccine doses, enough to vaccinate 18% of its priority population, and 7.0 % of the state’s population. As of January 6, New Jersey has administered 137,586 doses, covering only 3.9% of its prioritized population and 1.5% of its entire population. Another state, Mississippi, was allocated 203,925 doses, enough for 14.0% of its prioritized population and 6.9% of the state’s population. As of January 6, only 25,324 doses have been administered, covering 1.7 % of the prioritized population, and 0.8% of the state’s entire population.
In a “Morning Edition” interview aired January 7, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said not all Americans are social distancing and wearing masks, resulting in more COVID deaths and new infections, outpacing the vaccinations administration. “(There should be) greater interaction, cooperation between the federal government and the states, instead of letting the states in some respects do things on their own, to help them not only with plans, but with resources.”
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The vaccination experience differs for each person. A Washington, D.C. law student and his friend were vaccinated recently when the pharmacist at a grocery they visited told them she had two doses left because two people had cancelled their vaccination appointments. Once the vaccines, which are preserved at 22 degrees Fahrenheit (Moderna) and -94 degrees Fahrenheit (Pfizer) are thawed and used, they lose their potency in a few hours and must be discarded. The law student and his friend were vaccinated on the spot. They will return in a few weeks for the second dose. In Washington, D.C., certain grocery, and drug store pharmacies, as well as hospitals and clinics, administer the vaccines.
Chicagoan Carolynn Boatfield, who is Black, works in a local hospital with a medical team, coordinating patient care. She was vaccinated where she works. “Being fresh-faced and 21, and also in my ‘day off’ clothes, I was definitely met with a little resistance,” she told The Ark Republic. As a Black person, said Boatfield, she was aware of how some whites in medical fields historically misused and abused Black people for “experiments.” Boatfield also said, “However, it’s important to not let past injustices cloud the progress of today. It is valid to give credence to doubts and fears, but I know that I (made) the best choice for myself and those I love. . .”
Tracy Moore, 56, of Queens, New York, who is also Black, works in the health field. He was vaccinated on January 4. He told The Ark Republic that the process for getting vaccinated included scheduling his appointment online, filling out a health questionnaire on site, then sitting in a waiting room until a nurse called his name to take the shot. “I thought it was important for me to get this vaccine because of my underlying health problems” making him more vulnerable to catching COVID. “I have Type Two diabetes and asthma, along with high blood pressure. This disease is killing people like me, and I do want to live.
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