US assessment: age-specific vaccination schedule is not ideal

So far, just over 214 million people in the United States have received at least their first Covid-19 vaccination. This corresponds to about 64 percent of the country’s population, more than 184 million of whom are fully immunized (as of September 29, 2021, source: Center for Disease Control). For comparison: in Austria, more than 5.7 million people have received at least one vaccination for Covid 19 – this also corresponds to about 64 percent of the total population (as of September 28, source: Ministry of Health).

The sociologist explains: “The distribution of vaccines in the early stages of the epidemic can only be described as chaotic in the United States.” Elizabeth Wrigley Field Towards ORF. Together with a research team, she wanted to know which risk groups should have priority in order to make the best possible use of the vaccine doses available at the time. who – which calendar It was published in the journal Science Advances.

decentralized countries

Many of the first vaccines available in the United States were distributed to designated health workers and those in long-term care facilities on government orders. “That made a lot of sense, of course,” Wrigley Field said, “but it was the only government mandate.”

Agence France-Presse / Robin Beck

Initially, it was preferred to vaccinate the elderly in the USA.

According to the sociologist, the United States is decentralized in many areas – including vaccination plans: “Everything else could be decided by individual states, but most of them focused first on the risk group for the elderly.” Austria is persecuted: at the outset of the campaign, the medical and nursing staff as well as the older population were immunized.

unequal terms

Wrigley Field: “Under the same circumstances, older people are naturally more susceptible to becoming seriously ill with the virus. Unfortunately, the problem is that people in the United States do not live equal. In addition to age, a person’s cultural background and skin color are also relevant factors. relevance.”

Indigenous peoples, Latin Americans, and African Americans in general are at a higher risk of contracting and subsequently dying from Covid 19 infection. There are various reasons for this, some of which depend on financial factors, as the sociologist says: “Regardless of whether you live in apartments with several people or find poor preventive measures at work – the risk of infection unfortunately increases for these people.”

But according to the researcher, there are also serious differences when it comes to treating the infection: “When you get sick, it’s also about the treatment options that are available. There are, among other things, numerous reports from New York that African Americans with breathing problems have been infected with the virus. Refuse them when making emergency calls because the emergency services didn’t believe them.

theoretical scenarios

So Wrigley-Field worked with US researchers to determine which vaccination plan would theoretically have the best effects on CoV mortality when vaccines were still unavailable. To do this, they analyzed health data from the US states of California and Minnesota.

Impfkampagne in Los Angeles

Agence France-Presse / Frederick J. Brown

When it comes to healthcare in the United States, skin tone can be a drawback.

The researchers initially focused only on these cases because there was useful data on their population. “It then turned out to be a fortunate coincidence that very different groups of people live in these two states,” Wrigley Field explains. Thus, the relationship between skin color and an increased risk of Covid-19 could be better investigated than initially expected by the research team.

They analyzed different scenarios. The distribution of vaccination based solely on the age of the subjects showed that people of white skin, who showed a lower risk, were preferred over patients of another skin color. On the other hand, a vaccination schedule based on people’s skin color is not possible due to several factors, including the risk of discrimination.

Geographical organization

The study found that distribution to the elderly and all adults in small geographic areas at risk of contracting coronavirus would have the best effects on the nationwide mortality rate. Hospice care could have continued, but some doses of the vaccine would have had to be distributed to people in neighborhoods where the risk of infection is highest. “This could have slowed the distribution to the risk group of the elderly, but according to our calculations, this alternative had the best effects on mortality,” the sociologist said.

This option is particularly effective when the number of vaccine doses is limited but the population is in high demand. For example, a vaccination plan can be used for any upcoming booster vaccines, according to Wrigley-Field. However, she agrees: “Of course, focusing on individual neighborhoods will be more costly than the US government’s previous vaccination plans.” However, she hopes that the research findings will be implemented in future vaccination plans. “The solution we are investigating not only has the best effects on mortality, but is also the best option in terms of medical equality in the population.”

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