Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s highest-ranking infectious-disease expert, struck a hopeful tone about vaccine availability in the coming months, predicting Thursday that there could be an “open season” on doses by April.
Lt. Governor Josh Green MD…“We’d like everyone to remain patient”.
As we reported in Coronavirus Update (Jan 25th) , at least 407 people has so far died from COVID-19 in the state of Hawaii.
Hawaii’s 65 and older population, especially with “pre-existing” high-risk health conditions, ignored in state’s vaccine prioritization.
Hawaii, like much of the rest of the United States, has seen significant growth in its 65-and-older population since 2010.
Hawaii’s kupuna have grown by 37.6% since April 1, 2010, with an average growth rate of 3.5% annually.
Since July 1, 2010, Hawaii County’s 65-and-older population has grown 62.3%, and Maui County’s elderly population, which was the lowest in the state in 2010, had grown by 58.4% in the 9-year period, with the 65-and-older population continuing to grow, representing a greater percentage of the state’s population.
Washington State’s Vaccination Program, in contrast to Hawaii
The strategic advisory group at the World Health Organization (WHO) weighed in with guidance for global vaccine allocation, identifying groups that should be prioritized. These recommendations were joined in a plan from a panel assembled by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), both which clearly establish vaccine priority access for “…older people and individuals with multiple existing conditions, such as serious heart disease or diabetes, put them at higher risk for more-serious COVID-19 infection and potentially death.”
Mainland state governments, including by example the state of Washington, have vaccination plans in place which include NASEM guidelines and something Hawaii’s vaccination plan fails to factor, and which puts a portion of our older population at greater risk than is necessary.
The Washington State DOH COVID-19 website states:
“We are currently in Phase 1B tier of vaccine distribution.”
“The vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.”
This is in addition to populations eligible during phase 1A including health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19.
Washington state, like other states including Hawaii’s state government, have the discretion to set their own vaccination rules within previous established scientific and Federal guidelines.
After health-care and essential workers, medically vulnerable and older high risk groups with qualifying pre-existing health conditions vaccination access can be a matter of life or death.
Hawaii’s three tier COVID-19 Vaccination Plans states:
- The first phase of vaccinations, Phase 1A, which began in mid-December and is underway this month, focuses on health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
- For the second phase, Phase 1B (now underway), Lt. Gov. Josh Green has said will focus on about 109,000 residents, ages 75 and older in the state, along with an additional 50,000 frontline essential workers. The list of frontline essential workers includes first responders, corrections officers and staff, emergency service workers, and individuals essential for federal, state and local government operations. It also includes critical and public transportation workers, utilities workers, teachers, child care workers and education support staff, along with U.S. Postal Service workers and local farmers.
- In Phase 1C, which is expected to occur some time the spring of 2021, and will only then allow vaccinations for those age ranges 65 to 74, including those Kupuna with chronic diseases, along with the ever expanding list of essential workers not otherwise included in Phase 1B.
President Biden signs into action the Defense Production Act in the advancement of nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort
President Joe Biden will use the Defense Production Act to boost production of vaccines, testing, and personnel equipment to help ensure the US will have enough vaccines, testing, and protective equipment to withstand the coronavirus pandemic.
The move, part of a slew of executive orders at the start of his administration, will specifically allow government agencies like the State and Defense Departments to use the law to get materials to make more vials, syringes, and more.
This executive order signed on Biden’s first full day in his new job as president of United States, titled “Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain,” authorizes those agencies to “to fill those shortfalls as soon as practicable by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity, or expanding the industrial base.”
Biden’s team promised to use the DPA, which allows the government to mandate the production and acquisition of much-needed materials, in December. At the time Biden and his staff said the US needed to ramp up its production of materials to vaccinate 100 million people in the administration’s first 100 days.
“The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity, and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply,” Dr. Celine Grounder, a Biden adviser on Covid-19, told CNBC.
“Given the continued supply chain issues that we have seen over the past year, we believe it is in the best interest of the American public to shore up our access to critical supplies immediately and in the long term through all available DPA authorities,” wrote the group of senators, led by Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Chris Murphy (CT).