The current rate of efforts to vaccinate Americans is incredibly slow. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it will pick up as logistics systems are improved. However, about 13 million doses have been distributed and 4.3 million have been administered, a rate of only 33%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the data are a day old, they tell the story of the failure to get vaccines from factories into people’s arms. The rate of vaccination by state compared to available doses varies widely. In one state, it is only 17.1%.
Kansas has received 114,850 doses. Of those, 19,636 have been administered, which is 17.1%. That is the lowest rate in America. It shows how problematic distribution can be. Since doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have to be frozen, it also raises the specter that some of the doses will not be given while they are still effective.
KSNW in Topeka looked for answers for the slow Kansas vaccination rate. Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System commented, “Once they’re able to be distributed to those other places, such as pharmacies, commercial pharmacies, other small family medicine or internal medicine clinics, I think that will help improve.” In other words, distribution work has barely been effective at all but will get better.
Problems at the federal, state and local government levels have been blamed for the slow rollouts. At the federal level, experts say, there is no single authority for logistics. Distribution plans have been handed to states, which in turn often have passed them to local officials. That means thousands of decisions have to be made about distribution plans, often without the knowledge of when the vaccine will arrive.
Make no mistake about the need for vaccines in Kansas. Currently, there are 230,352 confirmed cases and 2,879 fatal ones, according to the Microsoft Bing COVID-19 Tracker. The New York Times offers one measure of how badly each state has done recently, based on a measure of cases per 100,000 over the past seven-day average. Kansas has the sixth-worst figure among all states at 84.2. Based on the same measurement for coronavirus deaths, Kansas ranks worst in the nation at 1.8.
As is true with the rest of the nation, taking preventive measures may slow the disease, but too many people have ignored them. National deaths, which number about 350,000, are expected to rise as high as 700,000 by April, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. Even if the distribution of vaccine become more effective, that number is unlikely to fall much between now and then.