Mass vaccinations for seasonal flu is a fairly simple operation since resistance comes from a single shot. But the current coronavirus vaccines will require two injections that will be spaced either three or four weeks apart. There is no quick coronavirus fix.
The inoculation of the American population will be made more difficult by this requirement, because a host of challenges arise. Health-care workers who work various shifts may be hard to schedule for the second dose. Residents of long-term-care facilities might move to other facilities between shots, and be hard to track down. On top of this, it will be difficult to stay in touch with people passing through jails, group homes and homeless shelters.
According to Frances Sellers of The Washington Post, health care providers will need to keep track of millions of people who have received one dose and need to return a few weeks later for another. They worry that the first vaccine may make people feel just sick enough that they won’t want to get a second shot and go through the ordeal again. In initial tests, 2 percent of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine subjects experienced fever, and a few more subjects came down with intense fatigue.
Health care providers are also concerned that people will create confusion by getting their first dose at one provider and their second at another, moving from Walgreens to CVS, for example. Even worse will be the challenge of keeping good records on people crossing state borders and moving from one health department to another.
“Two doses more than doubles the logistical challenges of administering the vaccines,” said Jeffrey Duchin, a Washington State officer for public health. “The moving parts have to align.” A two-dose requirement is a huge challenge for a public health system that aims to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of the American population. That percentage will be needed in order to reach “herd immunity” (when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease) and stop the spread of the virus.
The first dose of the coronavirus vaccines may give headaches, fevers and other unpleasant symptoms, all of which are good signs that the body’s immune system is working properly. But infectious disease experts are concerned that these reactions may prevent people from returning for their second shot. There is no quick coronavirus fix.
Persistence pays off
Fortunately, studies of another painful vaccine, the two-dose shingles shots, have revealed that the vast majority of people come back for their second dose if they have been educated about what to expect. “Motivated people will come back as long as they are properly prepared to do so,” said one expert.
A professor of medicine, Dr. Mark Siegel, told Fox News that Americans should accept the coming coronavirus vaccines. The rare side effects do not last long, he said, and they are less severe than some of the more extreme symptoms of Covid-19. “We are dealing with a virus here that has very severe side effects in high-risk groups. Not only do I want the high-risk groups to get these vaccines — and healthcare workers and emergency workers — but to consider those around them,” he said. “We have got to vaccinate everybody across the country.”
Gustave Perna, the U.S. Army general put in charge of vaccine distribution by President Trump, is prepared to send out the vaccines through the country in a quick and orderly fashion, once the federal government approves the inoculations.
In my mystery novel City of Peace, a Methodist minister named Harley Camden loses his wife and daughter in a European terrorist attack. His bishop forces him to move to a tiny church in small-town Occoquan, Virginia, to heal and recover. For Harley, there is no quick fix for his pain and anguish.
But any hope for serenity is quickly shattered by the mysterious murder of the daughter of the local Iraqi baker, followed by the threat of an attack by Islamic extremists. Harley tries to build bridges to his neighbors, including Muslims and Coptic Christians, and digs into the history of the ancient Galilean city of Sepphoris to find the secret to survival in a fractured and violent world.
Harley sets out to stop the violence and save his new flock, while seeking to overcome polarizing divisions among people of differing cultures and faiths. He realizes that there will be no quick fixes, and he accepts the risks and pain that have to be part of the long process of community healing.
When have you faced a challenge and been rewarded by your persistence? Quick fixes are popular, but some lasting benefits require patience, pain and hard work. When have you experienced delayed gratification? Join the conversation through a comment below.