In an address to the nation on March 11, 2021, President Biden reaffirmed his administration's ambitious vaccination goals and progress:
"When I took office 50 days ago, only 8 percent of [Americans] over the age of 65 had gotten their first vaccination. Today, that number is [nearly] 65 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans over age 75, 50 days ago, had gotten their first shot. Today, that number is well over 70 percent.
When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was, kind of, way over the top. I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days in office. Tonight, I can say we are not only going to meet that goal, we’re going to beat that goal... No other country in the world has done this."
This progress was made possible by unprecedented effort from a broad coalition of people, including the researchers who developed the vaccines, the workers who manufacture the supply, and the pharmacy employees and medical professionals who are administering the shots. But the sheer scope and demand of the vaccine roll-out has also created a host of new problems: unwieldy registration protocols, long lines, confusion over eligibility, and difficulty accessing appointments or sites have all been compounded by sometimes-opaque state and city guidelines.
To smooth the cracks in the vaccine administration effort, volunteers and community members are creating solutions to these common hurdles, often tailored for our most vulnerable and at-risk populations. The articles in this collection cover solutions including a website built by a middle-schooler in Chicago that aggregates local vaccine appointment slots; a mobile team of nurses and nonprofit workers in California who bring vaccines directly to nursing home and senior living facility residents; free curb-to-curb transportation services for residents of Austin, TX who need help reaching their vaccination destination; a partnership between a pharmacy and church in Arkansas that created an efficient drive-through vaccine clinic, and more.
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- What enabled CapMetro's quick implementation of services in Austin?
- What are some similarities between the approaches described in Rachel Bluth's article about California and Jenifer McAndrews's article about West Virginia?
- What can the vaccine appointment aggregator websites built by people like George Hu and Eli teach other communities about helping residents access appointments?
- One of the SJN Success Factor Categories is "embracing the power of relationships." How do the efforts covered in this collection exemplify Success Factors like social norming, positive peer pressure, or building trust?
- The program experienced a fairly smooth, fast roll-out because it was built on existing infrastructure: CapMetro’s MetroAccess program, an ADA-mandated paratransit system that offered a “safety net” to people with disabilities prior to the pandemic. CapMetro decided instead to commandeer those vehicles and drivers for the vaccine program, which, unlike MetroAccess, is free and doesn’t require you to have or prove a disability.
- Both approaches prioritize the needs of the vulnerable senior citizens in their communities, including bringing the vaccine to their homes, and striving as often as possible to get every drop of vaccine out of the medication vials - often resulting in more supply than anticipated, which translates into higher vaccination rates.
- Both websites were described by their creators as not particularly difficult to create, but communities need to recognize the difficulty citizens face in finding and booking appointments before they can begin to implement the solution. The websites are also reliant on volunteer labor, so finding knowledgeable community members who are willing to help is critical.
- Answers will vary.