West Virginia Is Vaccinating Residents the Fastest . . . Maryland, the Slowest

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The chart I’ll be checking the most in the coming weeks is Bloomberg News’ fairly frequently updated tally of how many Americans have received the first vaccination against coronavirus. Bloomberg is also keeping track of each state’s allocation of the first shipments of the vaccine, and how many have been administered. North Dakota has already administered more than 52 percent of its 24,900 doses, as has South Dakota with its 28,250 doses. West Virginia has administered more than half its 60,875 doses, and state officials say they have “offered the vaccine” to every last one of the state’s 214 nursing homes and long-term-care facilities. Take me home, country roads.

At the bottom of the chart is Maryland, which has administered just over 10 percent of its 191,075 doses; Ohio, which has administered 14.3 percent of its 370,575 doses; and Oregon, which administered 14.3 percent of 132,550 doses.

My home state of Virginia ranks fourth from the bottom. According to its website, the state department of health is still reviewing the criteria of who should get the vaccine after health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities:

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The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed vaccine studies and made recommendations on who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine first.  Certain groups will get the vaccine first based on their higher risks for COVID-19. The first vaccines are going to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities in Phase 1a. The next priority group, Phase 1b, includes frontline essential workers and people 75 and older. Then, people aged 16-74 with high-risk medical conditions, people aged 65-74, and other essential workers are the next priority group in Phase 1c. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is reviewing the recommendations for Phases 1b and 1c and will provide further guidance soon.

It’s just a crying shame that the decision of who would get the vaccine next snuck up on state health officials with no warning.

The good argument for Operation Warp Speed and the federal government’s leaving the specific distribution of the vaccine and order of priority for vaccination up to the state governments is it avoids a one-size-fits-all approach.

The bad and rarely spoken reason for leaving the specific distribution and order of priority up to state governments is it allows the federal government to leave the tough and potentially unpopular decisions on somebody else’s desk, and leaves a scapegoat when things go wrong.

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