One success story took place in Philadelphia, thanks to an effective collaboration between two health systems and Black community leaders. Recognizing that the largely online signup process was hard for older people or those without internet access, Penn Medicine and Mercy Catholic Medical Center created a text-message-based signup system as well as a 24/7 interactive voice recording option that could be used from a land line, with doctors answering patients’ questions before appointments. Working with community leaders, the program held its first clinic at a church and vaccinated 550 people.
In Alabama, for example, National Guard mobile vaccination units were set up with the ultra-cold freezers needed to transport and store mRNA-based covid-19 vaccines. “Why not, when this particular push is over, leave those freezer units with the federally qualified health centers that are already in those communities?” McClure says. “You’re starting to build the infrastructure for being able to deliver vaccination on a consistent basis.”
Author(s): Mia Sato
Publication Date: 7 June 2021
Publication Site: MIT Technology Review
Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.
Amidst all the mistrust and the scolding, a crucial public-health concept fell by the wayside. Harm reduction is the recognition that if there is an unmet and yet crucial human need, we cannot simply wish it away; we need to advise people on how to do what they seek to do more safely. Risk can never be completely eliminated; life requires more than futile attempts to bring risk down to zero. Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.
Author(s): Zeynep Tufekci
Publication Date: 26 February 2021
Publication Site: The Atlantic
Like public health officials everywhere, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin marvels at the miraculous production of highly effective vaccines against COVID-19 in mere months.
But Duchin, head of public health in Seattle and King County, Washington, doesn’t dwell on the only triumph of the pandemic response. Instead, he quickly pivots to the huge deficiencies plaguing the rollout of those lifesaving injections.
The lack of planning and coordination. The insufficient workforce and training. The inadequate public messaging and outreach. And the failure to create a uniform database to track inventory and equitably distribute shots.
“We’re seeing the consequences now of a complete and utter failure to ensure we have a full and robust vaccination system,” Duchin said. The chaotic execution of state and local vaccination programs is only the latest in a series of missteps by public health departments during the worst pandemic in more than a century. They include lackluster testing, contact tracing and data collection, and the failure to protect minority communities, which have borne the brunt of this disease.
Author(s): MICHAEL OLLOVE AND CHRISTINE VESTAL
Publication Date: 1 February 2021
Publication Site: Governing