Accelerated Vaccine Rollout Is Critical to Pandemic Control:
Resources and Collaboration Will Be Essential to Success
Barbara D. Alexander, MD, MHS, FIDSA – President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
Plans to significantly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine rollout announced by the Department of Health and Human Services today represent an important step toward controlling the pandemic. Adequate vaccine production, coordinated distribution and organized and efficient administration will be critical to accelerated vaccine rollout.
While rising rates of COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths demand swift and comprehensive action, communities across America already face overwhelming challenges to administering existing vaccines. All efforts to safely and equitably advance vaccine access across the country must be responsive to the disparate impacts of the pandemic on communities of color.
Although nearly half of the funding allocated in the recent spending bill has reached states, the remainder must be expeditiously distributed to states and local health departments in order to address obstacles such as limited staffing, supplies and space that preclude getting the vaccine to the people. The new Congress should stand ready to quickly consider additional funding as needs evolve.
As vaccination across our country is accelerated, timely and adequate supply chains will be critical to evidence-based dosing. Federal authorities must be prepared to strengthen support for the manufacture of new doses to ensure the vaccine can be provided in accordance with emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Transparency and advance notice of vaccine supplies will be critical to planning.
Clear and complete communication to the public on the timing and changes to the strategies of vaccination efforts and the rationale for changes remain crucial to building vaccine confidence and uptake.
Vaccines in arms save lives. Vaccines in storage do not. Sustained federal leadership and guidance for accelerating COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as well as population-wide commitment to public health measures that include mask-wearing and physical distancing, will remain essential to gaining control of this crisis.