As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, the public health system’s underlying issues are coming to light. One of the biggest concerns is that the vaccine registries do not uniformly collect and distribute comprehensive data, including data involving a patient’s race, ethnicity, and occupation. And inconsistent data collection might result in an inefficient vaccine campaign from not properly distributing the shots to higher-risk groups, such as frontline workers. Without the appropriate data regarding one’s occupation, it becomes challenging to track and monitor distribution to assess whether those who need the vaccine first are indeed getting it first. Further, racial data is required to ensure that minorities have access to vaccinations as they are at a disproportionate risk of contracting the virus.
Status of Vaccine Distribution
Since December 2020, the U.S’s coronavirus vaccination rollout has hit several snags. While the country has been working hard to distribute millions of doses, the rollout has proven to be a slow, grueling process with many hiccups, including the following:
The Technology Gap
Many local governments use an online platform for scheduling vaccination appointments. As a result, a high-risk group might get left behind: senior citizens. The lack of digital literacy within this group makes online scheduling an accessibility barrier. Additionally, seniors might be forced to wait for hours in line due to the lengthy distribution process.
Shortages and Issues
Most states report not having enough vaccines available. Some vaccinations have been canceled due to these shortages. Indeed, more vaccines are being produced and delivered; however, there are still issues that arise with the delivery process, such as freezer breakdowns.
While it is recommended that high-risk groups get vaccinated first, including seniors and frontline workers, the local governments ultimately control who gets vaccinated. For example, young medical researchers in Massachusetts received vaccines before elderly citizens. Following this situation, the Biden administration canceled vaccinations of certain lower-risk groups.
The virus has disproportionately impacted specific races and ethnicities. Specifically, the vaccine rates are low among Black Americans and Latinos. The reasons might be due to lack of accessibility or lack of trust in the healthcare system.
Incomprehensive Collection of Vaccine Data
It’s no surprise that the U.S. is facing challenges with what is regarded as the most extensive vaccination campaign in history. But some criticize the public health industry by saying the challenges facing vaccine distribution are due to the system’s pre-existing vulnerability.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, uniform data is not being collected from all 64 immunization registries in the U.S.. Since December 2020, some vaccine distributors have been not collecting information on the race and ethnicity of people being vaccinated.
As a result, these data gaps might make it hard to track who indeed has been vaccinated. The concern is that people who are low-risk are receiving the vaccine before higher-risk individuals. Additionally, not collecting information on race or ethnicity could impact trying to determine whether minorities are receiving enough shots at a high-enough rate to reach herd immunity across the country.
Digital Health Passports to Share Your Own Data
Until all the vaccine data collection challenges are sorted out, we can at least adopt new technologies to help keep ourselves and others safe. COVID PreCheck App is a digital health passport. The app generates a QR code on your phone to show proof that you’re not infected based on a self-assessment test or a lab test and individual’s immunisation status of COVID vaccine if taken. and information shared by your doctor.
The COVID PreCheck App is a promising innovation for the fight against the coronavirus. The goal is to use technology, particularly on mobile phones, to share vaccination and health statuses. This will allow groups of people to quickly screen each other before gathering.
The U.S. is forward to the vaccines being distributed as efficiently as possible. But even now, with the vaccine shots available, the distribution process is proving to be an uphill battle, particularly in getting high-risk groups vaccinated. Thankfully, the Digital Health Passport is a tool to help with the fight against the virus. Download the app to start sharing your health status.