Two hundred million shots in President Joe Biden’s first 100 days when only 100 million shots were initially promised. This is the president’s proudest and greatest accomplishment so far. It involves a massive effective co-ordination with the states, the pharmacies, and temporary vaccine centers all across the country. Now, 50% of American adults have received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, and the death rate from COVID among our seniors (80% have received at least one shot), is down dramatically. This is a heroic accomplishment, which, if it continues, will end the pandemic.
Since the rate of vaccination needs to exceed the rate of spread of the more easily transmissible variants which are emerging, especially the B117 from the United Kingdom which has begun to predominate, it is very important that this impressive rate of vaccination (close to 3 million doses per day) continue.
But there are serious compliance road blocks, both in minority areas and among Republicans. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could play a role in overcoming this, because it is one shot only, and a robust immunity of over 75% effectiveness has just been shown, but the vaccine was given a black eye recently because of the discovery of the extremely rare associated blood clotting.
The Biden team fear messaged this to show they were being ultra cautious but this strategy backfired in my office and doctor’s offices across the country as people grew wary of the shot’s possible complications.
This vaccine doesn’t need the cold storage of the Pfizer or Moderna shots, and had a large potential for use in doctors’ offices, including mine. The doctor/patient relationship has always played a key role in helping to overcome vaccine hesitancy and non-compliance.
Biden celebrates 200 million COVID shots in first 100 days, 16-year-olds eligible soon
Fear messaging has also been problematic because it has interfered with reopening and restoring a sense of freedom and positive spirit after a person has been vaccinated. Continued worried restrictions could also help to fuel vaccine hesitancy.
Since real world studies show that the vaccine works not just to protect the recipient from COVID but also to decrease spread, it makes sense to incentivize the shot by relieving restrictions faster than the administration is doing.
Biden speaks of unity, but there is a great deal of disparity from state to state in terms of who is open and who is closed, and on an individual basis who wears masks properly and who doesn’t.
It doesn’t make public health sense to continue to push mask mandates when so many states aren’t listening and when your risk of spreading COVID, once fully vaccinated, is very small.
Biden has promised to reopen the schools yet most, especially in blue states, remain at least partiallyclosed. This is despite the fact that most teachers are now vaccinated. Home testing could help reassure schools that students (especially those who are not vaccinated) are safe from spread, but though home self-tests continue to finally be approved and are becoming available at major pharmacy chains, the rollout is still too slow.
The president is correct to provide small business tax credits to employers for provider workers paid time off to get vaccinated. This is a small but important step in the direction of further vaccine compliance. A larger step is the involvement of more church groups and local doctors and nurses to help overcome hesitancy.
The fight against COVID must become more bipartisan. After a year of dogma and divisive fear-mongering, acknowledging that red states like Florida are doing something right with businesses thriving yet deaths from COVID plummeting would go a long way to reaching disenfranchised Republicans.