As we finally bid good riddance to 2020, we are beginning to wonder what 2021 has in store, especially regarding COVID-19. January is already coming to a close and unfortunately, case numbers are at an all-time high. However, there is some hope for us, as the vaccine is being distributed, with varying plans throughout the states.
While progress is being made, many are upset by the pace of vaccine distribution. Although the process is moving quite slowly, it is the largest inoculation drive in America’s history and efficiency is varying depending on the state. The state with the most well-structured vaccination plan, West Virginia, has already distributed 90% of its first supply. They are expected to complete vaccination of nursing home residents by the end of January. Despite such high numbers in West Virginia, other states are struggling with administration and less than one-third of all doses have been distributed nationwide.
California, Georgia, and Virginia are lagging behind with 26%, 20%, and 24% of available doses distributed, respectively. Georgia, with the lowest percentage of the states, is tackling many issues regarding the vaccine. To speed up the process, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp made the vaccine available to residents over the age of 65 and to police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. However, this is causing problems with multiple websites, including crashes and scheduling mishaps. Other struggling states depended too much on untested distribution sites in effort to speed up the process. This often led to mistakes and even more setbacks.
Such margines in progress and percentage poses a singular question: What is West Virginia doing so differently? Unlike other states, it is relying on its National Guard to aide in vaccine distribution. While every other state is utilizing a vaccination program developed by the CDC and run by chains like Walgreens and CVS, West Virginia is having its National Guard lead agencies and transport doses. Additionally, the state is vaccinating at-risk citizens collectively instead of only healthcare workers. Residents over 70, police officers and firefighters, and key manufacturing workers over 50 are being vaccinated simultaneously. West Virginia has turned its National Guard headquarters into a command center where state representatives meet and soldiers distribute vaccines statewide.