Such complaints have become a common refrain in a nation where public health officials have been left largely on their own to solve complex problems. It’s difficult to plan too far ahead because the number of doses the state receives can fluctuate. Hospitals cannot give all their workers shots on the same day because of possible side effects and staffing issues, so they must be spaced out. “Let’s just say that I was disappointed how they handled testing, and the vaccine deployment has reminded me of how disappointed I was when they handled testing,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner in Columbus, Ohio. An ongoing investigation by The Associated Press and Kaiser Health News detailed how state and local health departments have been underfunded for decades. Public health officials have warned since the spring that they lacked the staff, money and tools they needed to deploy a vaccine. The money was not approved until the end of December. By MICHELLE R. SMITH and CANDICE CHOI Associated Press Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine program, had promised to distribute enough doses to immunize 20 million people in the U.S. in December. It missed that target, and as of Friday, about 6.6 million people had received their first shot, according to a tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 22 million doses have been delivered to states. “The recurring theme is the lack of a national strategy and the attempt to pass the buck down the line, lower and lower, until the poor people at the receiving end have nobody else that they can send the buck to,” said Gianfranco Pezzino, who was the public health officer in Shawnee County, Kansas, until retiring last month. “It is possible. It is feasible,” he said. “I don’t see the level of urgency, the feeling of urgency in anybody around here. And that’s really, honestly, that’s the only thing that could make a difference.” “There just hasn’t been good messaging about the safety and the purposefulness of the safety protocols,” Garrow said. University of Scranton nursing student Glen Johnson administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a medical professional during a clinic at the Throop Civic Center in Throop, Pa. on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The Lackawanna County Medical Society had about 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine on hand to administer to people in Pennsylvania’s Phase 1A group of the vaccine rollout plan, which is limited to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP) The Trump administration defined its primary role as developing coronavirus vaccines and delivering them to states, which would then take over and ensure that vaccine doses traveled “the last mile” into arms. Each state had to develop its own plan, including issuing guidelines for who gets vaccinated first. Several health experts complained about that approach, saying it led to confusion and a patchwork response. Several public health officials and experts say they believe some of the early glitches are smoothing out. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the slow start should not be surprising given the immense scale of the task. Some states are getting creative. Oregon held a mass vaccination event at the state fairgrounds with the help of the National Guard. The governor said it aimed to vaccinate 250 people per hour. New Jersey planned to open six vaccine “megasites” where officials hope more than 2,000 people per day can eventually get their shots. States lament a lack of clarity on how many doses they will receive and when. They say more resources should have been devoted to education campaigns to ease concerns among people leery of getting the shots. And although the federal government recently approved $8.7 billion for the vaccine effort, it will take time to reach places that could have used the money months ago to prepare to deliver shots more efficiently. Still, Plescia said the federal government could have done more ahead of the rollout — such as releasing billions of dollars earlier to help with staffing, technology and other operational needs. As they work to ramp up the shots, state and local public health departments across the U.S. cite a variety of obstacles, most notably a lack of leadership from the federal government. Many officials worry that they are losing precious time at the height of the pandemic, and the delays could cost lives. “It was not going to be seamless,” he said. President-elect Joe Biden on Friday called the rollout a “travesty,” noting the lack of a national plan to get doses into arms and reiterating his commitment to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days. He has not shared details and was expected to discuss the effort this week. His office announced a plan to release most doses right away, rather than holding second doses in reserve, the more conservative approach taken by the Trump administration. Rhode Island health officials said it can take up to seven days to get doses out to people once they are received. Officials in several states, including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New Jersey, said the lack of supply is one of the biggest obstacles to getting more people vaccinated. What’s needed is a national, wartime-type effort to get vaccines out to as many people as possible, multiple experts said. Medical emergencies can be covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Pezzino, who is also a senior fellow at the Kansas Health Institute. Why not make vaccinations available on that schedule? The American Hospital Association has estimated that 1.8 million people need to be vaccinated daily from Jan. 1 to May 31 to reach widespread immunity by the summer. The current pace is more than 1 million people per day below that. “You don’t need 50 different states trying to do this kind of work. What you want to have is a smorgasbord of information sources that address different populations that any one state can use,” Osterholm said. “That’s what we don’t have right now.” A public education campaign could have helped address the hesitancy among health care workers that has slowed the rollout of the first shots, said James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia health department. Instead, officials for months talked about the speed at which they were developing the vaccines — which did not help alleviate concerns that it might not be safe. Some communities have seen large numbers of medical workers put off getting the shot, even though they are first in line. Columbus, Ohio, has had lower-than-expected demand among top priority groups, including emergency medical workers. The federal government has done little to provide information resources that local officials can tailor to their own communities, to address concerns of people such as pregnant women or Black men living in rural areas, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, who is a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board. Vaccine distribution involves a long, complex chain of events. Every dose must be tracked. Providers need to know how much staffing they will need. Eligible people must be notified to schedule their shots, given the vaccine’s handling requirements and the need to observe people for 15 minutes after the shot — all while social distancing is observed. PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Public health officials sounded the alarm for months, complaining that they did not have enough support or money to get COVID-19 vaccines quickly into arms. Now the slower-than-expected start to the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history is proving them right. But without a federal plan, such efforts can amount to “throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks,” said Chrissie Juliano of the Big Cities Health Coalition, which represents metropolitan health departments. Choi reported from New York. Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington also contributed to this report.
University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses’ Imee Hernandez smashes the ball towards two College of St. Benilde Lady Blazers defenders. SPORTS VISION PHOTO Meanwhile, reigning UAAP championsAteneo de Manila University Lady Eagles used its depth to overwhelm SanSebastian College Lady Stags while NCAA titlist Arellano Lady Chiefs bucked adepleted roster to repulse Lyceum Lady Pirates. “Everything is a learning process. Youjust have to keep on learning and learning. We really have to maximize ourplayers to achieve cohesiveness,” said Lady Eagles mentor Oliver Almadro./PN Rookie Faith Nisperos tallied 15 pointson 11 attacks and four service aces, while Pauline Gaston added 10 markers asthe Lady Eagles remained undefeated with a 25-17, 25-17, 25-8 victory. MANILA – University of Santo TomasGolden Tigresses survived a huge challenge from College of St. Benilde LadyBlazers, 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 15-12, in the PVL Collegiate Conference atthe San Juan Arena. “Magandaang palitan ng laro. Talagang neck-to-neck ang labanan namin kasi malalaki rin ‘yungkabila,” said Golden Tigresses head coach Emilio Reyes. “Nakikita mo na ‘yung full potential ng team kahit na composed of rookies and sophomores.” Rookie middle blocker Imee Hernandeztop-scored with 20 points while Rachel Roldan had triple-double 17 points, 11excellent digs and 10 excellent receptions for the 2-0 Golden Tigresses. Kecelyn Galdones chipped 15 markers,while returning Ennajie Laure poured in 13 points, including four of her team’snine blocks, laced with 11 excellent digs for the UAAP runner-ups.