Says It’s Totally Undeniable, Totally Unacceptable
Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) today criticized the administration’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine following news that New Jersey is seriously lagging behind the US average.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon blasted the state’s abysmal vaccination rollout rate and faulted the Administration’s lack of preparation. (DoD via Flickr)
“Somehow we’ve only distributed 30% of our vaccine allotment so far. There are other states at 62% so what’s the issue here?” said O’Scanlon. “Plans were in the works for months, supposedly, and yet we haven’t included all the resources that we could to maximize personnel. We know the private pharmacy industry stands ready with almost a thousand individuals certified to give inoculations. Why haven’t we taken advantage of that? We should be using every tool available to get vaccines out as quickly as possible.
“All across the country, states are vastly outpacing New Jersey in vaccination rate per population. New York and Delaware rates of delivered doses are 25% higher than New Jersey, and New Hampshire and Massachusetts are 42% higher. Rhode Island and Connecticut are 90% higher. Maine and VT are 123% higher! (Source: NBC News) The reasons? An incredibly high amount of underutilized resources, a lack of guidance and communication, inadequate and haphazard appointment systems, and an overall lack of preparation.
“While the Governor might be calling on retired health care professionals now to volunteer to help distribute the vaccine, it’s a bit too late when we should have already had this nailed down during what should have been a months-long planning/preparation process,” O’Scanlon continued.
“Over the holidays we’ve heard direct reports that there were various health departments closed, not responding to individuals trying to get vaccinated or questions from front line workers and those managing vulnerable long-term care facilities. I realize everyone is exhausted, but we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Could we not have trained legions of these folks to man phones and make appointments? We should have been prepared to operate these facilities – from logistics to inoculation delivery – 24/7. We are sophisticated, we have exceptional health services. New Jersey should be No. 1 in vaccine roll out, not almost 40th.
“Previously the administration has tried to suggest that the federal government hasn’t provided enough vaccines, but that deflection does not hold water given that we’ve only gotten 30% of our allotment distributed. The fact that we are making up bogus excuses rather than admitting failure and pledging to do better does not instill confidence. West Virginia managed to COMPLETE its first round of shots to all long-term care residents in 214 facilities by Dec. 28, the day New Jersey STARTED our program!
“Marty Wright, chief executive of the West Virginia Health Care Association, explained: ‘West Virginia did a different track. They aggressively said we’re going to use the best and brightest of West Virginia, we’re going to utilize our local pharmacies, and we’re going to do what West Virginians do, which is step up, go first and lead’.” (Metro News of West Virginia)
“These facts are another slap in the face of senior, veterans & long term care populations during COVID-19,” O’Scanlon said.
“We’ve heard from a significant player in the field that LTC’s are facing a wide number of complications in receiving the vaccine during this first tier, in part due to vaccine clinics being postponed or cancelled by Walgreens or CVS, or simply being unable to schedule. If we are having this much trouble getting the first dose of the vaccine out to residents, how can anyone be sure that they are staying on top of recipients who need the second dose? The Department of Health wasn’t even able to meet the filing deadline to get vaccines to LTCs before Christmas.
“Many other states have dynamically shifted priorities to make the vaccine available to seniors,” O’Scanlon noted. “Priority vaccinating those most at risk of death seems like a wise move. We need to be prioritizing our elderly and sick population. Doctors should have discretion to vaccinate at-risk seniors now, not when we finally get to Phase 1C, potentially months from now.
“Everyone is up in arms about prisoners being vaccinated in tier 1A here in New Jersey. I’m not reducing concern for their humanity because they are prisoners, but just like other populations, we’ve got to prioritize older, sicker people. Until they are done and frontline workers are done, we cannot prioritize younger, healthy convicts over our other vulnerable populations.
“We must admit, and work to correct, these failures and dramatically up our game. It’s very rare that our actions can literally make the difference between life and death. We can’t afford to fail.”