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Vaccine production must rise to meet demand

North Dakota is one of the nation’s top states in immunizing its population against COVID-19, but figures indicate there’s a long way to go in meeting the need and demand for the vaccine. As of Jan. 19, only 3.5% of the U.S. population had been vaccinated. First District Health Unit listed Ward County at about 5.3%.

Operation Warp Speed that brought vaccines to the market in record time now is being criticized for its slowness in getting vaccines to the states and into the arms of people. Locally, rapid-test sites for COVID-19 have helped free up public health workers who have been burdened by testing demands so they can focus on what they do best – vaccinate. However, an inability to get their hands on enough vaccine in a timely manner to keep on pace has been a limitation. Nationally, public health officials have stated week-to-week uncertainty over how much vaccine is coming has hindered vaccinators in organizing a planned approach to getting the job done.

According to an analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker by QuoteWizard, West Virginia has vaccinated a higher percentage of its population than any other state. Its 7.5% is ahead of Alaska at 6.7% and South Dakota at 6.5%. North Dakota ranks fourth with 6.1%. As of Jan. 10, the analysis found North Dakota had delivered 46,410 doses, using about 67.6% of its 68,675 doses.

Officials note that reports of when vaccines are shipped to states and when it actually is delivered and available can make the amount of unused vaccine seem high. Also, reports back to the CDC on doses given can lag. Certainly, local agencies understand the urgency and are administering the vaccine quickly once it is in the hands of vaccinating entities.

With around 202 million people in priority groups for vaccination and another 126 million people after that, the delivery of only 11 million doses to Americans as of mid-January is a disappointment. President Biden has indicated he wants to step up delivery to 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office. His plan includes speeding up vaccine production.

Production is a key part of the holdup. Releasing more resources to ramp up quickly and safely is paramount to getting the country out from under the weight of this pandemic.

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