All Adults Over 65 Will Soon Be Able to Get the COVID Vaccine

If you find it difficult to determine whose turn it is to get the COVID vaccine, there is both good and bad news. The White House recommends that all people over 65 and adults with high-risk conditions can receive the vaccine within two weeks, which means that many people will be eligible for the vaccine sooner than they thought. Bad news? The process for obtaining the vaccine is still confusing and differs from state to state. Also, we don’t have enough doses for everyone in the new groups.

The original plan of the CDC advisory group, ACIP, was to have overlapping priority groups called phases 1a, 1b and 1c. Healthcare professionals are in Group 1a, and if you have friends who work in the healthcare industry, you’ve likely seen countless vaccine selfies on your social media feeds. (If you don’t, take a look at Instagram’s History of Vaccines account , which documents this story in the making.)

But even this phase has been difficult to implement, with about 30 million doses sent so far, according to the CDC , but only 10 million people have been vaccinated. Part of the difference may be the delay in reporting, but it also appears that vaccines are not reaching everyone who wants them.

Why is it so hard?

Each state has its own vaccine distribution program. States do not have to follow priority guidelines, so many are making their own changes, such as allowing older adults to be vaccinated, for example. Whether or not you are eligible to participate in the program depends on who you are and what state you live in. Most likely, this will still apply to the new rule.

The states were also not provided with sufficient funds to support the large-scale project that they were asked to complete, since giving injections to every adult in the country is a huge task. STAT reports that state and local health authorities requested $ 8.4 billion in October to get the job done properly; This money was not allowed until the coronavirus incentive law was passed in December , after vaccinations had already begun.

To be honest, I’m surprised that no one in the government even managed to open a hotline or website, say at Vacine.gov, where you could find out if you meet the vaccination criteria and where to find the nearest vaccination site. Instead, you need to check with your state or local health department and follow any instructions they give you. In many areas, seniors who do not have a smartphone have trouble making appointments for vaccinations , as many systems require you to register with a website and be able to receive text messages.

There are also practical aspects. Vaccines have a limited amount of time, they can be stored at any temperature (freezer, refrigerator, etc.), and hospitals sometimes had to throw away doses that could not be used at the end of the day . In some places, at the end of the day, vaccines can be offered to anyone, regardless of priority group, to ensure that doses are not wasted; other countries, such as New York, have penalties for vaccinating people who do not fall into current priority groups. (This rule was intended to prevent people from skipping a line and getting vaccinated just because they are known or are friends with the planner.)

What happens next?

Well, it’s hard to say. The recent plan, announced yesterday by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, includes a change in the rules for allocating vaccines between states and recommends that states immediately consider people over 65 and those with high-risk illnesses.

But the changes do not take effect within two weeks, that is, the date comes after the inauguration. Then Joe Biden will become president, and his administration can change the plan. (Operation Warp Speed ​​claims they did not coordinate with Biden’s men on this matter.)

If the change persists, it could mean more people are competing for the same small number of vaccination appointments, but it could also mean that fewer doses will be wasted. In any case, keep an eye on the website of your local or state health department (in some states you can register to be notified) to see when your turn is.

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