Chances are, you or somebody you care about should be getting a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible but has not been able to do so.
In many cases, vulnerable people have not been able to even find out how and when the shots will be administered.
James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal had a column the other day on several states that are getting the shots into the arms of their citizens.
South Dakota, for example, is doing so well that Governor Kristi Noem, a frequent target of mandatory extended lockdown advocates, is dubbed “Vaccine Queen” in the headline.
One reason is that South Dakota was prepared. The administration did not mock the notion that Operation Warp Speed would make the vaccine available in record time. “They were prepared for the possibility of success,” Freeman writes.
Freeman quotes the Argus Leader newspaper:
It was August when health officials from across the state decided it was time to start planning. Though still weeks away, the chatter in the medical world was promising: A new type of vaccine known as a Messenger RNA vaccine was showing huge promise in the world’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The vaccines were being developed in record time and would be available in several weeks. The state’s medical community wanted to be ready. “We put a lot of thought and planning into this,” said Dr. David Basel, the vice president of clinical quality for Avera Medical Group.
The planning paid off. At a time when some states are stumbling to enact vaccination plans, South Dakota came out of the gate hard, following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for two mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. At one point this week, more South Dakotans had received vaccinations as a percentage of the population than in any other state, according to tracking done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The other secret of success, according to the column, is that South Dakota relied on private management and turned decision making over to people on the ground (in contrast to New York’s procedure, which is tied up in endless bureaucracy).
Besides planning, there has also been an unusual level of cooperation among health systems that are natural competitors. As part of the plan, the state was divvied up among five vaccine providers: The big three health systems, Avera, Monument and Sanford, as well as Mobridge Hospital and the Northern Plains Health Network. The providers agreed to take counties in which they didn’t have a presence, something Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said she appreciated.
Back to the Argus Leader:
The health systems already had established courier services for delivering medicines from their main hospitals to smaller facilities. Vaccines could piggyback along within that system.
That’s different than how other states have handled the roll-out, Basel said. For example, in Minnesota, vaccines aren’t going directly from the state to hospitals, but through a more complex distribution system that involves more layers. The system for distribution in South Dakota is “orders of magnitude less complicated.”
“We’re able to cut through the red tape and just do it,” Basel said.
In a previous column, Freeman addressed the successful program of vaccine delivery in West Virginia, which also relied on planning and nimbleness of execution. He quoted a radio report on vaccine delivery in the state:
Officials now say the first round of the two-part COVID-19 vaccine has been administered at all 214 nursing homes and long term care facilities.
Director of Professional Regulatory Affairs for the West Virginia Pharmacy Board and associate professor of pharmacy at WVU, Krista Capehart coordinated the effort. On MetroNews Talkline Capehart said it was a monumental effort, but one the medical community in the state was prepared to execute.
“It’s been a tremendous effort- team work, setting up the infrastructure and the framework to be able to do this,” West Virginia really is a close knit community.”
Under the West Virginia model, the two week wait period following authorization was used to energize and prepare the network of people to get the job done before some states have even started the process.
Meanwhile, another West Virginia newspaper reported that kids in Bluefield would be able to return to school in a matter of days. Authorities recognize that transmission rates are low among school-aged kids, and are seizing on this medical realism to open schools.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been a whiz at press events (he always has that world weary tone implying that the problem is that not enough people are obeying his edicts) has won an Emmy for his COVID performance. Is there an award for governors who are actually delivering the vaccine to their citizens?