The Biden-Harris administration is working to ensure COVID-19 vaccination access for all Americans, and this week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in Americans ages 12-15 . More than 17 million teenagers are now eligible for the virus, which has killed nearly 600,000 Americans so far.
Earlier this year, the White House tapped Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, To lead the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The task force is part of the government’s broader effort to identify and eliminate health and social disparities, resulting in a much higher COVID-19 related risk, disease, hospitalization, and death rate.
Its mission is to advise the administration about inequalities arising or worsened by the COVID-19 epidemic and to prevent such inequalities in the future.
Dr. Nunez-Smith is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health and Management at Yale University. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on inequalities in health care, and since the epidemic began, he has spoken about the disproportionate burden faced by black communities across the country.
She says that it is good news that children aged 12–15 years are already getting vaccinated. “Seventeen million new people in our country are eligible for vaccination, and half of them are people of color. In terms of ability to connect with vaccination and ease of access, this is a top priority for the Biden Harris administration,” he BET. com told.
Nunez-Smith explained that this administration has grown rapidly in record time in developing infrastructure to allow more people to receive immunizations and eliminate barriers to easy access.
“This includes mass vaccination sites, community immunization centers, all of them located in areas that have been hit hard and are at high risk with COVID-19,” she said. “And when we look at the data from there we see that 60% of the vaccinations — administered through those FEMA friendly run sites — have gone to more than 60 million people of color. We looked at community health centers, and all of the country. 1,400 community health centers are eligible.
“Now we see that 80% of vaccinations given through the Community Health Center program have actually gone to people of color,” she continued, “and then of course the federal retail pharmacy program. So we now have 40,000 in our program There are pharmacies. In some neighborhoods and communities, more than 40 percent of American pharmacies have been the hardest hit. “
While much good has been done, Dr. Nunez-Smith says that much more remains to be done to keep the country safe.
“Ninety percent of the people in the country live within five miles of the vaccination site, and there are over 80,000 places where you can get vaccinated, but five miles is still a problem if you don’t have transportation,” she said. “So the administration is also thinking about some of those issues. And now there is a partnership with Uber and Lyft. They are donating rides to vaccinate people between May 24 and July 4.”
Of course, there are still obstacles, especially when it comes to figuring out where to go. Dr. Nunez-Smith states that there are some programs that address populations that may not be technology savvy.
He said that the federal government has launched a new informational website, Vaccines.gov, And people can get a text by texting their zip code to 438829 with the three nearest locations that have the vaccine in stock.
Pfizer’s studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccination is 100% effective in the age group of 12–15. What Dr. Nunez-Smith says is very encouraging.
“I always say that it takes us closer to zero, but no one will say that it is complete,” she said. “We know that vaccinating people faster, and vaccinating more people will help prevent various forms and new mutations, so it’s incredibly important. But this epidemic missed a lot for young people Is, and so being able to relate them to a more normal childhood is very exciting. “
Another encouraging development in the battle to eradicate this epidemic is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks in most situations.
Dr. Nunez-Smith states that it is important to recognize that in a community, everyone should play their role to try to keep everyone safe.
“Not everyone can get vaccinated, so when all the people who can get vaccinated get vaccinated, that’s when we start seeing really positive benefits in terms of getting back to our normal, but also those people, Those who cannot get vaccinated. Hospitals, do not lose any more lives. And so the President has also said that 70 percent of adults are vaccinated by July 4, so there is definitely more work to do. ”
She mentioned that exceptions exist when it comes to vaccinated people and their masks.
“We already know for those who are immune that vaccines may not provide the same level of protection. If your immunity is low then talk to your doctor before taking off the mask.”
Dr. Nunez-Smith points out that mathematics is encouraging, but not enough to relax. “Among seniors, we are 85% of those who have received at least one dose. But we have not yet been able to get 50% of people under the age of 75 vaccinated, but we are very close to the number of those adults , Who have taken at least one dose. “