The United States enters the second month of the largest vaccination campaign in history with a major campaign expansion, opening football stadiums, major league ball parks, fairs and convention centers for immunize a larger and more diverse pool of people.
After an extremely slow rollout mainly involving healthcare workers and nursing home residents, states are moving to the next phase before the first is complete, making COVID-19 plans available to groups such as the elderly people, teachers, bus drivers, police officers. and firefighters.
Hard-hit fourth-grade Arizona teacher Emily Alexander was immunized during a 24-hour drive-thru surgery, which opened Monday at the stadium in suburban Phoenix, where the Arizona Cardinals play. NFL. She said she hopes that means she can be reunited in person with her students and colleagues before the end of the year.
“I miss the kids so much,” said Alexander, 37. “I can’t wait to see them and their families, to be able to embrace them. It was so difficult.
Likewise, in Britain, where a more contagious variant of the virus is raging out of control and deaths are skyrocketing, seven large-scale vaccination sites opened on Monday in places such as a large convention center in London, a racecourse in Surrey and a tennis and football complex in Manchester.
Across the United States, where the epidemic has entered its deadliest phase to date and the death toll has climbed to around 375,000, politicians and health officials have complained in the past few days that too of shots were unused on the shelves due to too stiff a grip. to federal guidelines that put approximately 24 million healthcare workers and nursing home residents on the front line.
About 9 million Americans received their first vaccine, or 2.7% of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say up to 85% of the population will need to be vaccinated to gain “herd immunity” and beat the epidemic.
Many states are responding by opening the line to other groups and stepping up the pace of vaccinations, in some cases offering them 24/7.
In California, one of the deadliest hotspots in the United States, a drive-thru vaccination center has been set up outside the San Diego Padres baseball stadium, with plans to vaccinate 5,000 officers from health per day. Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium will also go live by the end of the week.
“It was truly a hassle-free experience,” said Julieann Sparks, a 41-year-old nurse who was injected through her car window at the San Diego site. After being vaccinated, drivers had to stay there for 15 minutes in order to be watched for any reactions.
Approximately 584,000 doses have been administered in California, or approximately 1.5% of the population. At the same time, the state has taken another grim milestone, exceeding a death toll of 30,000. It took six months for the state to register its first 10,000 deaths, but barely a month to go from 20,000 to 30,000.
Arizona, with the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the United States, offers vaccinations to people 75 and older, teachers, police and firefighters.
In Texas, vaccine megasites have opened at the San Antonio Alamodome and the Dallas State Fair. Nearly 4,000 people were vaccinated Saturday at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros baseball.
The Detroit call center was blocked with more than 100,000 calls on Monday as the city made an appointment for vaccinations at the city’s TCF convention center, starting Wednesday. Officials plan to schedule 20,000 appointments for the elderly over the next month. Police officers and bus drivers may start to receive gunfire there at the end of the week.
“We don’t have the capacity to answer questions from people under 75 or non-Detroit about vaccinations in general,” said Detroit operations manager Hakim Berry. “If you are not eligible, please do not connect the call lines. “
The slow rollout of the US campaign was blamed in part on inadequate funding and advice from Washington and a host of logistical hurdles at the national and local levels that caused confusion and disorganization.
As Colorado enters its next phase of distributing vaccines to people 70 and older, frustration is mounting among seniors who say they have received little to no communication from local public health officials.
Joyce Ballotti, 85, and her 94-year-old husband went to a vaccination site in Pueblo, Colo., Which was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Monday, but at around 8:45 a.m. they were turned away because there were no more. vaccine.
“When we saw that exit locked, we said, ‘Oh oh, the city fucked up again,’” Ballotti said.
A traffic policeman signaled them to leave and they received no indication of other vaccination sites. Ballotti said she was angry and frustrated with the process.
“I’m about to not have it at all,” she said, noting that the couple’s son had quit work to drive them. “I can’t ask my son to spend his time shopping for nothing.”
There were also obstacles in Georgia, where the plan to expand access to people over 65 got off to a rocky start. The websites of at least two public health districts collapsed on Monday, and other districts reported an overwhelming demand for appointments.
Florida, a longtime retirement haven with one of the largest concentrations of seniors in the country, uses Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens to distribute punches. Just over 402,000 doses have been administered in Florida since mid-December, or just under 2% of its population.
Rather than wait for the first designated group of recipients under federal guidelines to receive their vaccines, Governor Ron DeSantis has opened up vaccinations to people 65 and older.
The move was met with huge demand, with older people queuing in the cold night or sleeping in their cars – a sight that alarmed many. DeSantis said drive-thru sites will be stepped up in the coming days.
In New York, two 24-hour sites and several more are expected to be operational over the next two weeks. Tuesday’s meetings from midnight to 4 a.m. quickly ended in what Mayor Bill de Blasio has pointed out is, after all, “the city that never sleeps.”
“It gives you hope,” said David Garvin, who turns 80 next weekend and was vaccinated at a site run by the city of Brooklyn on Monday, the first day the state went. made people over 75 eligible as well as various frontline workers. “I have been in my room for six months.”
Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, said it was reasonable to speed things up and move on to the next group of people as long as health workers and nursing home residents continued to get vaccinated. at the same time.
“Our country should be able to walk and chew gum when it comes to its immunization schedule,” he said.
Pane reported from Boise, Idaho, and Watson reported from San Diego. Denver-based Nieberg is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on secret issues. Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and Terry Tang in Phoenix also contributed.