Widespread vaccine distribution has been touted as the only way back to ‘normal’ life. As business reporters, keeping an eye on the progress of the vaccine roll out can help determine when businesses may reopen and employees are safe to return to work.
Since the start, experts have criticized the government’s handling of the roll out as “messy” and “chaotic.” Early on, the federal government missed their own markers, promising to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year. The reality: just three million people had received a dose by the close of 2020. Now, President Biden is promising to make the vaccine available to all adults by May.
Local governments have seen their own successes and failures. Because vaccine distribution is so closely linked to the reopening of the economy, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your community’s progress. Here are some helpful questions to ask to determine how they’re doing.
Is there a single website where people can sign up to receive their vaccination, or are there multiple sites people need to sift through to find an appointment? Does the site make sense? Is it clear who may book an appointment and how? Official vaccine sites are notoriously clunky and confusing. One New Yorker was so frustrated with his city’s complicated vaccination website that he created his own user friendly site for $50.
Are there multiple ways for people to sign up for their appointment? Does your community have a phone bank in addition to a website?
Is the website available in languages other than English? Is the site user-friendly for people who may need to use assistive technologies? Places like San Francisco have made their vaccine site translatable into Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog, while places like Maricopa County, in Arizona, have been criticized for taking months to translate their sign-up page into Spanish.
What about equitable distribution? Are you seeing reports that indicate certain groups of people are being left out? Nationally, those hit hardest by the virus such as people of color and those in poverty are less likely to be vaccinated.
Could waste and mismanagement be happening? Reports show that thousands of life-saving doses are being wasted while many people find they are unable to receive their second and final dose in the recommended time frame.