The COVID-19 virus first made its debut on U.S. soil just about a year ago. As this anniversary passes, the U.S. finds itself in the early stages of vaccine deployment and administration. While vaccination efforts around the world have been met with difficulties, the U.S. has been uniquely disorganized in its vaccination process.
NBC reports that the U.S. vaccination rollout process has been specifically affected by the nation’s non-centralized healthcare system, as well as the early disbanding of the National Security Council for global health and discharging top biosecurity advisors under President Trump. Vaccines arrived in the U.S. quickly during the last months of Trump’s administration, yet this lack of preparation hindered their distribution.
The recent inauguration of President Joe Biden came with claims of a more effective federal rollout strategy, but few noteworthy changes have been seen thus far. As of January 31, all 50 states are reporting shortages of the vaccine to the degree that states are found competing with one another to receive the supplies they lack.
The Philadelphia area has seen its own difficulties with vaccine administration. An organization called Philly Fighting Covid (PFC) was created by a number of graduate students in the Philadelphia area, led by Andrei Doroshin – a 22 year old student with no background in healthcare. This non-profit was able to gain more traction than some previously established groups such as the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, which have been successfully conducting outreach to marginalized communities for months prior.
Months before vaccines were available to the U.S., Doroshin shared his plans for a Philadelphia vaccination center capable of vaccinating up to 1.5 million people. These in-depth and far-reaching plans presented by PFC gained traction well before the organization was established. Hopes were high for this burgeoning non-profit’s potential; high enough that PFC was granted part of the city’s vaccine allotment.
Upon opening the facility for vaccination, Doroshin revamped PFC into a for-profit business called Vax Populi. From this point on it became apparent that the organization’s plans were not as achievable, or even as organized, as Doroshin originally presented them to be. Most notably, the organization was found to be turning away numerous patients with confirmed vaccination appointments for seemingly no reason. In addition to these negligent operations, Doroshin was seen taking vaccines from the facility and putting them in his personal bag to vaccinate friends and family.
Doroshin additionally failed to fulfill numerous promises he had made to other organizations and Mayor Kenney. Kenney was hopeful for PFC to aid in equitable practices of vaccine distribution. Previously Philadelphia recorded only 12% of those vaccinated were Black, despite having a 44% Black population. Doroshin withdrew testing sites with numerous POC led organizations, and failed to provide the proper patient demographic data as requested by Mayor Kenney due to an alleged computer glitch.
Philadelphia’s disorganization in vaccine distribution is deeply reflective of the struggles occurring nationwide.
Delaware County, PA vaccinations are currently available for healthcare professionals and those with medical conditions as listed in the phase 1A group. Unfortunately, students will not be eligible for vaccination until a later phase.
Sources: NBC, NPR