By Ariel Steinsaltz
Several locations across the country have found themselves turning down shipments of Covid-19 vaccines as the demand for them declines, according to the Associated Press.
Louisiana has asked for less than the full amount of the vaccine; most counties in Kansas have refused new shipments in the past month; half of the counties in Iowa have stopped asking for new doses and Mississippi asked for smaller shipments so the vaccine would not get wasted. The supply of the vaccine is surpassing the demand, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. is struggling to fight the pandemic while also dealing with the image of the many doses going to waste and sitting unused on American shelves, all while other countries going through medical emergencies do not have enough vaccines, according to the Associated Press.
All American adults are now eligible to get the vaccine, but mass vaccination sites are shutting down due to the lack of demand. Florida, Georgia and North Carolina will be shutting some down by May. The CEO of Palm Beach County’s health care district, Darcy Davis, said, “It makes more sense to go to them instead of waiting for them to come to us,” according to the Palm Beach Post.
Texas, Wisconsin, Las Vegas and Montana are also shutting down sites, and Maryland’s governor predicted they soon would as well. Ohio canceled plans for a new mass vaccination clinic due to lack of demand, according to Forbes.
Even in places where vaccination sites are not closing, demand is going down. The average amount of Covid vaccines distributed over a period of seven days has been declining, from 3.3 million to 3.02 million. This is not the case everywhere, though — new vaccination sites are opening in places like Virginia, Illinois and New York City, according to Forbes.
Some people are urging the federal government to stop sending doses of the vaccine based on population, and instead send them based on demand. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker agrees, saying that with more supply, vaccines in Massachusetts could be administered 2-3 times faster. In other parts of the country, demand is not as high with small-town doctors in places like Mississippi essentially begging members of the community to get vaccinated with little success, according to the Associated Press.
President Biden celebrated the country having administered more than 200 million doses of vaccines in his first 100 days in office in an official White House tweet which read, “Before taking office, President Biden set a bold goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days. After reaching the goal in just 58 days, he doubled it to 200 million. And today, because of the hard work of people across the country, we officially reached it.”
More than half of adults in the country have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The president is now focused on efforts to increase outreach to people who are hesitant about the vaccine, according to the Associated Press.
With 37% of American expressing some level of unwillingness to receive the vaccine, the White House and state governments are trying to increase willingness to get vaccinated. Biden has said that businesses who give their employees paid time off for getting vaccinated will receive tax breaks, according to Forbes.
Public health officials across the country are trying to convince people to get vaccinated. In Louisiana, there is outreach work being done with community and faith-based leaders to try and increase demand for the vaccine, and mail and automated calls are being sent out. New Mexico is looking at finding trusted community members to ease concerns and holding town halls. In Maine, officials are looking at reasons people are not getting vaccinated and are looking to prevent barriers for those who are willing to get the vaccine, but haven’t yet.
For those who are still unwilling, they are “working to find trusted messengers like doctors, family members, community members” to get good information to them, according to the Associated Press.