While the end of 2020 brought with it the COVID-19 vaccine, local medical experts say we’re well behind vaccination projections heading into 2021.
Officials heading up Operation Warp Speed projected that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of the year, but so far only roughly three million have received their first dose.
“I think a lot of has to do with getting the vaccine out there. Really what Operation Warp Speed did was get the vaccines manufactured. Vaccinating the people and administering the vaccine is a completely different process,” Dr. Joseph Gastaldo of OhioHealth explains.
A process that, for Gastaldo, is complicated, and is more than just getting an injection and walking away.
“We have learned a lot and we are making the process more efficient. And in the very near future, we’re going to be up to 1,000 vaccines a day,” Dr. Gastaldo boasts.
Ohio officials had hoped to vaccinate more than 600,000 people by the end of 2020.
But with only just over 100,000 receiving the first dose so far, experts chalk up the delay to several factors.
“I think the timing of the arrival of the vaccine in the middle of the holidays has not been ideal,” explains Dr. Mysheika Roberts from Columbus Public Health.
Experts say the holidays have led to a wait-and-see approach from many people.
Though still, some may not want to get it at all.
“I also think there’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there, where people are like, ‘Hmm, I want to wait and let other people go first, and then I’ll decide,” Dr. Roberts describes.
Moving into the new year — for experts, even more than supply, education will be key to reaching their goals.
“This is a new vaccine that came out very quickly. And so, we have to educate people appropriately on what that means, what that process was like,” says Dr. Roberts.
While healthcare systems continue to count on more widespread availability in 2021.
“Towards the second-half of the year, we’ll have enough vaccines to really offer all Americans the vaccination,” hopes Dr. Gastaldo.
Experts say three more vaccines could be on the way in early 2020, including those from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.