When doses come to you
Demand for vaccines in the U.S. is dwindling. The country is inoculating an average of about 1.8 million people a day, down from about 3.3 million in mid-April.
Part of the problem is access. Some people are encumbered by jobs or the responsibility of child care. Others struggle with dire poverty. Many are adrift, out of reach or uninformed.
So, across the country, health officials are taking vaccines on the road, sometimes even to potential patients’ doorsteps.
In Sussex County, Del., many residents live in poverty, making them more vulnerable to the virus. But a trip to a doctor or a vaccination appointment may require navigating irregular bus routes or losing a day’s wages.
In April, teams from Beebe Healthcare and local partners added workstations to a bus that had been used as a mobile library. Workers, who are able to vaccinate 50 people in several hours, listen and dispel misinformation — in English, Spanish and Creole.
In New York City, Black and Hispanic residents are being vaccinated at significantly lower rates than other groups are. Now, public health officials there are reaching out to unvaccinated residents. Community groups are knocking on doors to persuade people to be inoculated, and in some cases those who agree get appointments for doses in a temporary clinic nearby.
To reach homeless people in Washington State, officials have set up a clinic on wheels in Pioneer Square in Seattle. Thomas Dunlap noticed the mobile clinic by chance and accepted an inoculation with relief. As did Michael Clinger, another homeless man, who said he was “sick of wearing a mask.”
In rural areas, lack of access to technology and transportation during the pandemic has defined the potential for life, death or debilitating illness.
In Minnesota, the state health department and other partners transformed six city buses into clinics. Seats were removed and vaccination stations were installed. Personal protective equipment, canopies, tents and snacks have been stowed aboard. Up to eight people ride along, vaccinating 10 to 180 people at one event.
Emily Smoak, a health department planner, said the mobile clinic teams aimed to build trust and curb the impact of the virus on communities.
“We are showing up in communities and telling people: ‘You do matter. We are not just going to leave you out of the greater process,’” Smoak said.
Vaccination campaigns in Asia
Two of China’s neighbors have enacted divergent vaccination campaigns, and their disparate results show the value of a muscular rollout.
Early in the pandemic, Taiwan shut its borders and required quarantines of nearly everyone who arrived from overseas, mostly shielding itself from the worst of the virus. But that has recently changed after enough infections have slipped by to cause localized outbreaks.
The country has reported 200 to 350 new infections a day for the past several days, after recording just 1,290 from the beginning of the pandemic until Saturday. Amplifying the concerns is the country’s slow vaccination campaign. Only about 1 percent of the island’s 23.5 million residents have been vaccinated. Scenes from the country now look like those from the early days of the pandemic, with businesses shuttered and lines around the block at testing sites. Experts say the slow pace of vaccination and more transmissible virus variants created a perfect window for a flare-up.
Mongolia, on the other hand, used its status as a small geopolitical player between Russia and China to strike deals with both countries to acquire enough doses to vaccinate its entire adult population. It’s a big victory for a low-income nation, which snapped up doses with a swiftness similar to the pace of much wealthier countries despite being late to the global rush for vaccines.
The country has been facing a forceful outbreak that began in March, but cases have been dropping during the past month, and officials are so confident about the nation’s vaccine riches that they are promising citizens a “Covid-free summer.”