Vaccine Distribution

Natalie Bachman

While vaccine production was a feat in itself, mass distribution is a long anticipated procedure that we have now been faced with. Although vaccines typically take years to produce, the two main distributors, Moderna and Pfizer, produced the vaccine in a few months. With no hard plan, though, the general public may not be able to receive doses until summer or fall of 2021.

Moderna And Pfizer’s vaccines work by introducing mRNA to the immune system. The genetic code instructs cells to produce COVID-19 proteins, which the cell then presents at its surface. These proteins initiate the production of antibodies, which are tricked into believing that the proteins are the actual virus. This stimulation trains the immune system to produce these specific antibodies in the future. Studies also show that antibodies may remain in one’s system for 6-8 months, also providing immunity. 

Despite the robust testing procedures, many individuals have questioned the safety of the vaccines. Back in December of 2020, only 60% of Americans expressed willingness to receive a dose. A handful of people experienced allergic reactions, although this is typical of any vaccine. As more testing ensues, though, the confidence level is expected to increase.

The government has been discussing the distribution of cards to the individuals who received the vaccination. This card may be required to attend certain events, travel, and attend school.

Both FedEx and UPS were tasked with distributing the doses. They were provided with special medical freezers to keep the vaccines at the necessary temperature. Moderna’s vaccine only requires standard freezer temperatures, making it easier to deliver in smaller quantities to rural areas. Distribution is heavily monitored, and every delivery vehicle is accompanied by an escort.

Inevitably, healthcare workers were given priority. On December 14, 2020, Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse became the first American to receive Pfizer’s vaccine. First responders were also towards the front of the list, receiving their doses within the first few weeks.

Following the initial distribution, though, there was no evident plan. The states were initially left to regulate the process, resulting in procedural variations throughout the country. By mid-January, elderly individuals (defined as 75 and older) were allowed to receive their first doses in some areas of California. However, some teachers in the Los Gatos Saratoga Joint Union High School District were offered doses.

Despite early success, it was revealed in early January that only ⅓ of the produced doses were being successfully administered. This was in part due to inefficient transportation from major delivery centers to smaller hospitals. Local governments were not adequately prepared to administer vaccinations, and there was no clear plan as to who would be prioritized. 

The Biden administration hopes to distribute 100 million doses within the first 100 days and to provide more federal regulation. Distributing a vaccine on such a wide scale is uncharted territory for the world. Despite this, much of the public has been optimistic that the long-awaited vaccine may be their ticket to normalcy.

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