Hold your horses, folks. Vaccines for COVID-19 are coming.
Late last year, we welcomed the news of multiple effective vaccines for the disease caused by the pandemic coronavirus. Developing a useful vaccine was one giant hurdle overcome, but as we now know, we had yet to face the other hurdle of manufacture and distribution on a scale the world has never seen before.
It’s a hurdle that Texas continues to confront. As we report in a special statewide feature in today’s edition, vaccine supply in our state remains limited. County officials don’t know week to week how many doses they will receive. Due to the limited supply, doses aren’t even available to the majority of Texans, as current guidelines call for vaccines to be administered only to people whose occupation, age or health status puts them at greatest risk of severe disease should they catch COVID-19.
Much of the difficulty local officials have had procuring enough doses stems from failures of planning and leadership higher up the chain. At this point, we must make the best of a bad situation.
On the bright side: Thousands of doses have been administered in the rural counties outside the Metroplex and Hunt County. They’ve gone to crucial workers in our healthcare systems and to residents who are believed to be most likely to need hospitalization should they catch COVID-19.
We had hoped to see more people vaccinated by now, but we’re thankful for the headway we have witnessed in protecting key parts of our medical infrastructure. Those first doses are helping protect frontline workers who are most likely to be exposed and helping keep older and immunocompromised people out of the hospital to start with.
In other words, if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in the hospital for any reason – not just for COVID-19 – your hospital is less likely to be overwhelmed by staffing or supply shortages that healthcare systems generally have faced. Fewer severe cases of COVID-19, such as we see most often in elderly and immunocompromised populations, means more resources to devote to those who do come down with the disease.
That’s worth keeping in mind, too, as we anticipate more pharmaceutical companies rolling out their vaccines. Don’t be discouraged by vaccines that at first glance look less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna formulations – vaccines designed by Johnson & Johnson or AstraZaneca, for instance, are still showing that they generally keep you from getting more than a mild case of COVID-19. So, regardless of which shot you end up getting, you’re still a lot less likely to end up in the hospital than if you didn’t get vaccinated at all.
Hang in there.
Be prepared to get vaccinated when supply becomes available for you, and in the meantime, let’s help our older neighbors and family members get onto the appropriate waiting lists or registered for a vaccine appointment.
Shot by shot, we’ll eventually get through this.