Biden Administration announces new plans for rural vaccinations

West Virginia

BOONE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – President Biden announced Tuesday his new plan to get as many Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 before the 4th of July, especially in rural areas.

This push comes as rural hospitals are raising concerns about the vaccination pace, even among their own staff. 

The Biden Administration is moving into a new phase of its vaccination campaign, one where vaccines will be in the hands of pharmacists and primary care physicians to make getting vaccinated more convenient.

The vaccination pace, especially in rural areas, has slowed down dramatically.

“The initial onset we had a great demand and not enough supply and now we’ve come into a world that’s completely opposite. We have a great supply and not a great demand,” Dr. Howard Lafferty with Boone Memorial Hospital said.

Now, the focus is getting vaccines to those who may have vaccine hesitancy or can’t get to a clinic to get vaccinated since doctors and health care professionals can be more persuasive than the government.

The administration also plans to enroll more pediatricians and family doctors in their vaccine systems so they can start giving the Pitzer vaccine to adolescents between the ages of 12-15, once the FDA approves it.  

“Having that conversation with them about why they want you to get the vaccine to protect your other family members to keep you from ending up in an ICU unit, that’s the whole reason behind the vaccine,” Patricia Collett, Chief Operations Officer for Community Care West Virginia said.

Some medical professionals in rural settings themselves are struggling to receive a vaccine. According to a National Rural Health Association and Chartis Center for Rural Health survey, 30% of the 160 rural hospital executives who responded said less than half of their employees had been vaccinated — even though health care workers have been eligible for months now. Only about a third said that 70% or more of their staff were vaccinated.

“There is hesitancy out there and we see that hesitancy throughout the state and then we have seen from the state level they have accommodated all those that have hesitancy from county to county,” Dr. Lafferty said.

Across the mountain state, the problem now is what to do with all these extra vaccines since the people who wanted to get vaccinated have already gotten their shots.

“It just breaks my heart that we’re going to waste vaccinations so we’re really going to work hard to be able to make sure that we’re given the most to everyone as possible,” Collett said.

Tuesday President Biden set a new goal of administering at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 70% of the U.S. adult population and having 160 million U.S. adults fully vaccinated by July 4.

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