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Editorial

Vaccine distribution needs improvement

Posted

The rollout of New York state’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution has been, at times, disorganized, even chaotic, but in fairness, the state has received a mere 300,000 doses per week, while the need is significantly greater than that — there are nearly 19.5 million people living in the state, and more than 7 million of them are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

Three hundred thousand represents 1.5 percent of the state’s population. The actual percentage of people receiving the vaccine, however, is less than 1 percent per week, as each person must receive two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine to achieve 95 percent immunity to the coronavirus.

So, at the current rate of vaccination, we would need more than 100 weeks — about two years — to vaccinate everyone in the state, and at least 60 weeks, or a little more than a year, to achieve “herd immunity.”

As is the case with all other states, New York’s weekly allocation is determined by the federal government. Last week, President Biden announced that his administration had finalized deals to buy 200 million more vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna by this summer, so it appears increasingly likely that he will be able to make good on a promise to ensure that all Americans who choose to be vaccinated can be.

These are frustrating months. Life-saving vaccines started streaming into the public in early December, but slowly. That is behind us, though. Now we must focus on the future.

We urge people to be patient as more vaccine is manufactured and sent out to the states. Your turn will come — soon. In the meantime, keep following the critical safety protocols that we have heard repeated again and again over the past year — stay home as much as possible, keep at least six feet of distance between you and others, wear a mask (or two) when in public (KN95 masks are five-layered and tight-fitting), wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer when you cannot. And even after you receive the vaccine, be sure to continue these measures.

We were surprised to see that food bank workers were not included in New York’s staged vaccine distribution plan. Those who work at food banks, many of them volunteers, are doing God’s work, feeding the hungry and the poor. If they don’t show up to work, people don’t eat, lowering their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to disease, including Covid-19.

Clearly, food bank workers are among our most essential workers, and should have been included in any vaccine distribution plan. We are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and our state legislators to rethink the plan — and include them in the current round of inoculations, labeled Phase 1b.

Finally, when your turn comes to be vaccinated, be sure to schedule your inoculation as soon as you can. People have reported reactions that include muscle soreness and mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, but these side effects pale in comparison with the virus itself, which, strangely, leaves some unharmed, while ravaging — and killing — others.

Who’s next for an inoculation?

New York state began the second part of Phase 2b of its Covid-19 inoculation distribution plan on Monday. Those in the phase include women who are pregnant and people with:
• Cancer, current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers
• Chronic kidney disease
• Pulmonary disease
• Intellectual and developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome
• Heart conditions, including high blood pressure
• Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
• Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 kg/m2 or higher), obesity (body mass index of between 30 kg/m2 and 40 kg/m2)
• Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
• Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
• Cerebrovascular disease
• Neurologic conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
• Liver disease
Previous phases included health care and emergency workers, educators, essential workers and those over age 65. For more information and instructions on how to schedule your vaccine, go to the New York State Department of Health website, www.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.