Thousands of Covid Vaccine Doses Could Go to Waste Because of Our Shitty Healthcare Infrastructure

Illustration for article titled Thousands of Covid Vaccine Doses Could Go to Waste Because of Our Shitty Healthcare Infrastructure
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

With the promise of a covid vaccine around the corner, officials at state and local health departments are beginning to worry about the possibility of thousands of doses going to waste, due to cracks in the infrastructure of our healthcare system.

Advertisement

According to Politico, the vaccine developed by Pfizer requires extreme temperature control for storage, as the doses must be kept in “ultra-cold” conditions. Once they’re thawed and diluted for use, they must be administered within six hours. That means health departments, pharmacies, and other healthcare facilities must have enough patients ready to receive the vaccine in order for it not to spoil. And though there’s been significant public interest in the development of a covid vaccine, the number of Americans who plan on actually getting it when it becomes available has significantly dropped since the spring.

“This is going to be very hard, I think there’s going to be a steep learning curve here,” Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.“I think there is going to be a lot of waste, and I think we are going to figure this out over time. There is going to be a lot of stumbling. ... You’ve got six hours once reconstituted, that’s unprecedented.”

Other health officials worry that the federal government hasn’t invested in the kinds of programs and initiatives required to administer a vaccine to millions of Americans, citing unlearned lessons from the way the United States dealt with the H1N1 influenza virus more than a decade ago. Instead, the Trump administration has left public health officials without a unified plan or a unified message for the vaccine, which could be ready for mass distribution as soon as December.

“We need a plan,” said Jason Terk, chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition, who told the Washington Post about syringe shortages for administering vaccines during H1N1. “We’ve needed a plan for quite a long time.”

Hm, I can’t help but think it would have been good to be prepared for this one!

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, The New Republic, Vice, and more.

DISCUSSION

crankylittlephoton2
crankylittlephoton

Having worked in healthcare for almost 25 years, I watched the anti-vaccine movement grow from a far-fringe small group of nut jobs to an internet-enabled Wakefield-McCarthy international juggernaut of stupidity. Even after 1.4 MILLION DEATHS, even after all this suffering, I STILL have patients every day tell me that they will not take the vaccine.

They have no actual answer when I ask what concerns them. Just some vague, noxious notion about vaccines being unsafe. These are all people over 65 with serious underlying health issues (the highest-risk population). They will not listen to me, an actual medical doctor who is going to get the vaccine the god damned second it arrives at my hospital, nor are they in any way receptive to having a conversation about this.

The US is going to have to consider financial penalties for those who refuse to be vaccinated (like higher insurance premiums for smokers) and requiring proof of vaccination to enroll in schools, travel, etc. I’m considering requiring proof of vaccination to enter my clinic.

I’m so sick of Americans giving the finger to facts and science, blithely endangering others either to ‘own the libs’ or merely because they continue to be allowed to make their own damned rules during a global health emergency.

Asimov said it best:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The star of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’