Time to Rip Up the Bureaucratic Script on Vaccines
The record-setting effort that has so far produced two highly effective coronavirus vaccines is running up against an even more powerful foe: bureaucracy. And the bureaucratic fumbles, red tape and blame shifting show no signs of easing, even as the virus continues to claim thousands of lives every day.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the logistical problems began at the top, and grew worse down the line:
The federal government shipped those doses to states around the country, with states establishing their own criteria for who should get the vaccine first. But it has been up to local health departments, hospitals and other providers to actually manage the tangle of logistics and many have been unable to do so effectively.
The result is an erratic and disjointed process that is causing frustration and confusion around the country.
More vaccine supply will come online and, eventually, everyone who wants a shot will be able to get tone. The questions are how and when. Part of the answer lies in expanding the number of places where people can get vaccines.
Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote:
Standing up vaccination sites and encouraging people to go get the shot is expensive and takes time. The best option may be to rely more on private industry. National pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens have an agreement with the federal government to provide vaccines to long-term care facilities. The government should expand this program to help vaccinate all Americans.
The major pharmacy chains combined can deliver up to 100 million vaccines a month. The plan had been to allow large retailers to start offering the shot when it was ready for the general public, perhaps later in the spring. Why not get started now? Public-health agencies can focus their resources on providing access to harder-to-reach communities and patients who might be homebound.
Getting governments and health departments to think creatively is a challenge in the best of times. But ripping up the needlessly rigid bureaucratic script on who can get the shot, and where they can get it, needs to happen now.
Otherwise, the cascading government logistical failure will put more lives at risk.