Where Are All The COVID-19 Vaccines?

By Mary Johnson, editor

All together now: Raise your hand if you have had trouble figuring out if, when, or where you would get a COVID-19 vaccine! If you have already gotten yours — congratulations!

In my rural area of Central Virginia, more than 25,000 adults over the age of 65 signed up to receive the vaccine on the Virginia Department of Health’s website during the first 30 days. But our health district’s director said that we should only expect to receive only 600 to 1500 doses per week. After doing the math, I figured I might not be vaccinated until 2024!

I was wrong, thank goodness. I just received my second dose of the vaccine last week.

The massive national initiative to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 is underway, but “Operation Warp Speed” immediately hit inevitable speed bumps. One big concern has been the 40% of Americans who want someone else to go first. There are already reports though that vaccine hesitance is actually much less of a problem as more becomes known about the vaccines, and worries grow that there might not be enough vaccine to go around. There’s nothing like the fear of shortages (even when that is not the case) to get people lining up.

I found it upsetting to learn that thousands of doses (worth at least $16.94 apiece and paid for by taxpayers) have been lost to spoilage and mishandling. It annoyed me to learn that the vaccine from Pfizer requires special syringes. (Those syringes are in short supply and, as a result, the extra dose is often discarded.) In one case, 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine were deliberately allowed to spoil by a “troubled” hospital pharmacist, who was later arrested.

But in recent weeks, vaccine production and the number of people getting vaccinated has ramped up in my area. More vaccine is available and at more venues. In Virginia, the health department is regularly emailing those of us on the signup list, and a health department worker called to give me the appointment dates and times for my disabled brother and his wife. Now when I call friends and neighbors, we happily compare notes about the vaccine and thoroughly discuss any side effects. So far, my family and friends have had very positive experiences. Most of us had nothing more than a sore arm for a day or so. But the best part of the process was the shared sense that a heavyweight is finally lifting. We can look forward to hugging our family and friends!

Virtually every major healthcare initiative that I’ve witnessed over the 26 years of writing the Advisor has encountered major issues that caused distress for us all, but eventually got ironed out, albeit months later. Our best advice to those of you who haven’t gotten a vaccine is to contact your local health department, keep in touch with your primary care physician and pharmacies, watch your local news for information about vaccine centers in your area.

Sources: “Intent To Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Rises to 60%,” Cary Funk and Alec Tyson, Pew Research Center, December 3, 2020. “Biden Want To Squeeze An Extra Shot Of Vaccine Out Of Every Pfizer Vial. It Won’t Be Easy,” Christopher Rowland, The Washington Post, January 22, 2021. “Pharmacist Accused of Tampering With Vaccine Was Conspiracy Theorist, Police Say,” Shaila Dewan and Kay Nolan, The New York Times, January 4, 2021. “COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Is Running Low,” Nicholas, Florko, STAT, January 21, 2021.