Counties Reminded of Their Vital Role as COVID Vaccine Deliveries Begin

December 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool)

As America prepared for the first coronavirus vaccines to be given Monday morning, county officials were reminded of their vital role in ensuring the vaccine roll out is a success.

“One thing you need to be doing now is engaging your communities in sustainable, equitable and inclusive ways so that they are engaged in the planning process and are ready to accept the vaccine as it becomes available,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told attendees at the National Association of Counties virtual fall board meeting last week.

She was one of several health officials who addressed the group prior to the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday night.

The first vaccinations took place at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., shortly after 9 a.m. Monday.

LeAnne Fox, head of the elimination and control team at the Centers for Disease Control’s Parasitic Diseases Branch, also addressed the group, explaining how the agency’s Vaccinate with Confidence initiative can be used as a multi-faceted toolkits to educate the public and stop the spread of misinformation.

Among other things, the initiative arms health care providers with fact sheets, posters and concepts for social media posts.

When it comes to providing the COVID-19 vaccine to specific populations, Fox said the CDC is working with pharmacies and local jurisdictions to reach those in rural areas and hard-hit populations in other communities.

“Vaccination planning is really a combination of state, territorial, tribal and local responsibility and so we work in close partnership,” Fox said. “It’s very important we understand each other’s roles and we work to be as efficient as possible with the funding we have so we can access the greatest population and provide coverage to as many people as possible.”

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