COVID vaccine ‘isn’t the flu shot’: Vaccinators explain why NJ rollout is slow
Taken from NorthJersey.com
By Lindy Washburn
January 13, 2021
What’s taking so long? That’s the question asked by hundreds of thousands of people who have flocked to New Jersey’s COVID vaccine sign-up page to get inoculated.
There are many answers, but the first is the most obvious: Demand far outstrips supply currently. The state has been allocated far fewer doses than the number of people who want them. More than a million have registered for the vaccine at covidvaccine.nj.gov, while about 600,000 vaccine doses have been received and 233,000 doses have been used.
But a second reason for the slow rollout is that the COVID vaccines are different from any vaccines given before. The data-tracking required for each dose is daunting. Storage and preparation of the vaccine require special equipment and handling.
“This isn’t the flu shot,” said Michael Maron, CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. “This is a very valuable, complex drug, and the preparation of it is a complex process.”
Finally, the largest public vaccination campaign in U.S. history is unfolding against the backdrop of the worst pandemic in a century. Hospitals are already strapped to care for the nearly 4,000 people statewide currently hospitalized with the coronavirus.
Vaccine sites must guard against spread of the disease by screening patients and giving them enough space to maintain social distance.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli has called for retired health professionals to volunteer for the state’s Medical Reserve Corps, which will help administer the vaccines, to help fill the staffing gap.
But “the one who gives the shots is just a very small piece of the very complex logistics that goes into giving every shot,” said Barbara Rosen, a vaccinator at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
“It takes a village to give one shot,” said Rosen, a nurse and officer of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union. “Sticking the needle in somebody’s arm is the easiest part of it.”
Here’s what’s involved.