The United States reached another landmark just before Easter when it attempted to vaccinate the bulk of its almost 330 million residents.
Eight million COVID-19 vaccine shots were administered in just 48 hours.
Although Australia struggles to increase vaccination coverage, the United States is distributing enough shots every day to vaccinate our entire population in just over a week.
Here’s how they got there, and why US Vice President Joe Biden continues to warn about a “life or death sprint” against the coronavirus.
In December 2020, the United States Launched its COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign
Sandra Lindsay, a New York nurse, was the first person to receive the injection.
Following in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump’s Warp Speed program, Vice President Joe Biden made increasing vaccine development and delivery one of his top priorities when he took office in late January.
At the time, the United States was vaccinating almost a million people per day on average.
The US government, like Australia’s, is in charge of collecting and disseminating the vaccines. It is up to individual states and districts to get them into people’s hands.
Biden announced the procurement of 200 million extra vaccines a few weeks after taking office, including 100 million Pfizer and 100 million Moderna, ensuring that the US had enough vaccines on order to vaccinate every American in February.
There were some bumps in the road in the beginning.
Trump’s proposal to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 fell short by more than 17 million people.
While the vaccine rollout was smooth in some nations, it was not in others.
Three Vaccines are Used in the United States
Unlike Australia, the United States is introducing three vaccines:
- Johnson and Johnson
Biden signed ten executive orders on his first day in office to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including those aimed at increasing vaccination rates.
Mass vaccination centers, more money for states to speed up their own vaccine rollouts, making vaccines accessible via local pharmacies, enabling states to enable their National Guard contingents to assist with vaccine administration, and using the Defense Production Act (a provision typically reserved for wartime) to manufacture vaccine supplies were among the steps.
Importantly, the Biden administration has benefited from Moderna and Pfizer increasing vaccine manufacturing, which began in late 2020 when former President Trump was in office. When Johnson and Johnson fell behind on its production goals, Biden negotiated an agreement with the company to allow “round-the-clock” operations so vaccines could be distributed faster.
There is Already a Date set for the Distribution of Vaccines to the General Public
Anyone over the age of 16 in the United States can now schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the vast majority of states.
Today, Biden set a deadline for this to happen across the country.
“Any adult over the age of 18, 18 or older, will be required to be vaccinated” by April 19, Biden said at the White House.
“No more confusing rules, no more confusing restrictions,” he said.
The new deadline is two weeks earlier than the Biden administration’s previously scheduled May 1 deadline.
According to the White House, almost one-third of Americans and more than 40% of US adults have undergone at least one vaccination, with one out of every four adults being fully vaccinated.
California, the nation’s most populous county, plans to end nearly a year of closures by mid-June.
And Biden has set July 4th, Independence Day, as the deadline for the United States to return to some semblance of normalcy.
“After this long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special,” he told an address to the nation in March.
“Where we not only mark our independence as a nation but begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
Although estimates vary, according to a New York Times report, the US could achieve herd immunity even sooner, possibly as early as May.
Despite the Good News, the United States is not yet out of the Woods
The US experienced its worst-ever pandemic wave as the vaccine rollout ramped up in January.
More than 300,000 cases and 4,000 deaths were reported in a single day at one point.
Although the alarming numbers have fallen dramatically, there has been a plateau in recent weeks, prompting analysts to fear a fourth wave.
In the last week, an average of 60,000 cases have been confirmed every day (although nearly half are confined to just five states).
The President has issued an alert as a result of this.
“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight, think we’re at the finish line already, but let me be deadly earnest with you — we aren’t at the finish line. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life and death race against this virus,” he said.
“I want every American to know in no uncertain terms that this fight isn’t over, this progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve can be reversed. Now’s not the time to let down. Now’s not the time to celebrate.”
The idea hasn’t gotten through to anyone.
The Texas Rangers played the Toronto Blue Jays in front of a sellout crowd of more than 38,000 people at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, this week.
By the middle innings, journalists at the game announced that mask-wearing had fallen to around 50% of the crowd.
Source: ABC World News