You’ve heard all about the vaccine-skeptical. Well, let us introduce you to a new pandemic-era persona: the vaccine-jealous. And we’re here to confess that we are members of this ethically righteous tribe.
The indoctrinating incidents occurred last week, when two people close to me (Larry, that is) received their first round of shots. One is a psychologist who has seen approximately three patients in person since March, while the other is a veterinarian who treats pups and parakeets.
Now, outside the parental realm, I’m nobody’s idea of essential. I work from home without incident – at least on the days there isn’t an eight-Zoom pileup on the Wi-Fi interstate – and have no needs that should push me within three zip codes of the front of the line. “Can’t get favorite Texas wiener” is a bummer, not a hardship or a chronic condition.
That said, I can’t help but envy the people who have already received the vaccine, especially those whose situations aren’t that different from my own. They followed the rules and I’d probably have done the same thing if I were them. It still stinks.
Today’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,809 words and will take you eight minutes to read.
The administrators and the administration
Has anyone stopped to consider just how many people are involved in the vaccination push? There are physicians and pharmacists and nurses, yes, but there are also registration website coders and vaccination site coordinators and the poor souls stuck manning the phones. It’s a mobilization effort unlike any other, which might be why we’re having such trouble getting it up to speed.
- Despite reluctance in some quarters, websites for vaccination registration are filling their appointment slots quickly and demand is outpacing supply. Not surprisingly, there’s a palpable measure of anger and frustration as people here, there and everywhere discover that they can’t get the vaccines for themselves or vulnerable loved ones soon enough.
- During a virtual town hall for senior living housing administrators, experts from the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Public Health, among others, pointed to a need for a “nuanced approach” to COVID vaccination, Kimberly Bonvissuto reports in McKnight’s Senior Living. “Acknowledge vaccines are part of a broader strategy in our effort to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus,” one expert suggested.
- In McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, Kimberly Bonvissuto notes that COVID vaccination has become a condition of employment for some senior living operators.
- Then there’s Dollar General, which said on Wednesday that it will offer employees the equivalent of four hours’ pay to receive the vaccine. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work,” it said in a statement.
- In California, dentists will be offered a four-hour online training course on how to administer COVID-19 vaccine. Across the country, medical students are enthusiastically stepping up to give shots or monitor vaccine recipients for immediate side effects.
- The CEO of a Florida nursing home and assisted living organization reportedly sent letters to wealthy donors and board members offering them access to COVID-19 vaccine, Amy Novotney notes in McKnight’s Senior Living, citing a Washington Post investigation. Florida Senator Rick Scott is calling for an official inquiry, Danielle Brown adds in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
- Here’s another one for the “journalism is a public service” file: A 26-year-old Tallahassee Democrat reporter covering the rollout has become a one-woman help desk for confused and anxious seniors trying to navigate the vaccination system. CD Davidson-Hiers invited readers to contact her if they had questions or problems – and they did, to the tune of 75 text messages in one day.
The takeaway: The essential dilemma here, as The New York Times’ Shira Ovide points out in “The Problem With Vaccine Websites” is that “no one has ever run a vaccine campaign on this scale and at this speed” and that “when government programs that have been unattended, unfunded and bogged down by red tape suddenly have to meet a huge demand in a crisis, they can’t cope and people suffer.” Just because it’s understandable doesn’t mean it’s okay.
The campaigns and the campaigners
You can’t impeach a virus or reason with it. You can only attempt to present information thoughtfully and transparently, and hope your target audiences respond in kind.
- MM+M’s Lecia Bushak serves up coverage of the first-ever virtual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, during which vaccine makers have commanded a lion’s share of the attention. Wednesday was pharmacies’ time to shine, with Marc Iskowitz weighing in on their pandemic-era surge. Indeed, COVID has offered national pharmacy chains a once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) chance to show how they’ve evolved, from ubiquitous sellers of toothpaste and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to convenient hub for all things health-related.
- In a series of New York Times op-eds on how to fix the rollout, suggestions included: vaccinate highest-risk people first and then make it a lottery for everyone under age 55; target geographic towns and neighborhoods that are hotspots of transmission; write better algorithms that build public trust by providing transparency and inviting feedback; and resist vaccine mandates and tactics that shame the vaccine-hesitant.
- Pfizer and BioNTech have launched “Because of This,” a vaccine confidence campaign. It’s backed by the American Nurses Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians, among other groups, and features a wealth of personal testimony, PRWeek reports.
- Campaign’s Fayola Douglas surveys WeWork’s evolving pitch to businesses amid the pandemic.
The takeaway: With spread-happy COVID variants invading the country, time is of the essence. The messaging needs to continue to convey the sense of urgency the great majority of us are feeling.
Pollsters and statisticians have been working overtime these last few months. Good hustle by them.
- Unofficial CV Briefing pollster CivicScience notes that more and more people are warming to the idea of receiving a COVID vaccine. Any number short of 100% is something of a disappointment, but at least we’re trending in the right direction. Also from CivicScience: the pandemic hasn’t nudged us towards going cashless, as many experts suspected it might, and we’re at least trying to focus on healthier habits amid all this.
- The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found, to exactly nobody’s surprise, that trust in institutions ranging from government to the media declined amid the ongoing pandemic. PRWeek’s Thomas Moore unpacks the results, with commentary from leaders at the NAACP, Google and Moderna.
- As it happens, for the 20th year in a row, nurses are the most trusted profession in a Gallup Poll (89% high or very high trust rating), followed by doctors at 77%, grade school teachers at 75%, and pharmacists at 71%.
- Intent to get vaccinated “as soon as it’s available” is trending up. Sixty percent of all respondents are ready to go, per the venerable Axios-Ipsos poll, with significant leaps over mid-December rates among seniors (from 48% to 68%) and Hispanics (25% to 46%).
The takeaway: It’s folly to make big-picture pronouncements about attitudes amid the country’s ongoing political stratification, but there sure seems to be a movement in recent weeks towards following the science.
Got questions? You’ll find many of the answers if you avail yourself of the resources below.
- Want to know what’s going on with COVID-19 in your backyard? Check out the cool, data-rich dashboard put together by the National Association of City and County Health Officials. The acronym is NACCHO, but you are free to pronounce it however you choose.
- A bipartisan group of governors has unveiled a Call to Action to Defeat COVID-19 and Promote National Recovery and Renewal. Developed and released by the COVID Collaborative, the Call to Action emphasizes three needs: to provide “credible evidence-based messages from trusted messengers” on the safety and efficacy of approved vaccines and treatments; to partner with providers and community leaders in high-risk communities to build trust, address barriers to access and respond to concerns; and to use “clear, transparent, and frequent communication with the public about plans for distributing new vaccines and treatments.”
- The National Governors Association, Covid Collaborative, and Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy have co-authored a report on Supporting an Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine. The document includes a chapter on “Communicating with the Public and Engaging Vaccination Partners,” while the appendix includes links to all state vaccination plans.
- The Power of Us, a campaign from the Ad Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is designed to educate and empower the Black community to stop the spread of coronavirus. Black men and women are 2.6 times more likely to get COVID-19, 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and more than twice as likely to die from the disease.
The takeaway: Information about most every aspect of COVID and the vaccination is abundantly available. Finding it – and separating the authoritative wheat from the scammy, pseudo-scientific chaff – is the problem.
- McKnight’s Home Care editor Liza Berger sits down with Right To Music founder Dan Cohen, who has described music as “PPE for the mind.” Her takeaway: “The Pandemic Is Raging. Turn Up the Music.”
- In Medical Bag, Lina Zeldovich offers a history lesson that couldn’t be timelier: A profile of microbiologist Maurice Hilleman, “The Man Who Saved the World With Vaccines.”
- Japan expects to host the pandemic-delayed Olympics in July. The government has preordered 290 million doses of three vaccines, more than enough to cover the country’s population of 126 million, and plans to complete vaccination by mid-year. One hurdle to clear before the games can begin: Japan’s historically low level of vaccine confidence.
- This year’s Iditarod sled race has a COVID prevention plan that includes masks and social distancing. Meanwhile, the pandemic-fueled pet adoption trend may become even trendier after the Indoguration, a virtual event celebrating the arrival of the Bidens’ dog, a German shepherd rescue dog named Major, at the White House. Who’s a good boy? Major is a good boy!
- Renaissance man Jack Sonni serves up a shrimp and broccoli stir-fry recipe for Medical Bag readers. I will attempt to make this and I will be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.
- Your mileage may vary, but I’d get vaccinated at Yankee Stadium or the state fairground in Dallas or Disneyland. I’d let Luke Voit or a carny or Goofy give me the jab. Just tell me where and when to show up.
…and some songs.
Play in the Sunshine, Prince
That’s it for today’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing. Thanks for reading this and our most excellent brand spinoff, The Vaccine Project Newsletter. We’ll be back next Wednesday with the first of two weekly doses. Be well.