Home>Articles>This…is what our vaccine dose delivery system will have to ramp up to in order to get us to 70% by the end of June

State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

This…is what our vaccine dose delivery system will have to ramp up to in order to get us to 70% by the end of June

By Senator Declan O'Scanlon, January 25 2021 12:34 pm

OPINION

Goals are endpoints. Missions are plans/strategies to achieve goals. Our “goal”, and it’s one we should shoot for, is to get 70% of the adult NJ population vaccinated by the end of June. We need to understand the mission we’ll need to accomplish to achieve our goal.

As county governments/health departments/hospitals/health care clinics/pharmacy/retail outlets scramble to hire staff and work out vaccination program logistics….securing sites, arranging utilities, training administrative/processing/health care staff…throughout the state, no one has properly outlined the mission. Just how many doses of the vaccine does NJ have to deliver each week, and how does that number translate to the County level, in order to achieve our goal?

We need to know these numbers to figure out if the mission is realistic and also to know when we’re on track, and when we’re not.

Without knowing these numbers we’re flying blind. Even if we are falling behind…we need to know by how much and then be able to recalculate to catch up. These are critical numbers for officials across the state and in each County to have. Yet, none of the officials I’ve spoken to have them.

So, we did the math.

Our target population is those over 18.  75% of the US population is 18 or older, so 75% of 330 mil is 250,000,000 mil give or take. Want to get to 70% of those 250 mil, or 175 million people vaccinated.  Assuming 2/3rds of those will need 2 shots…116,000,000 x 2 = 232 million doses. Plus the remaining 1/3 getting one dose…58,000,000 added to the 232,000,000 is 290 million doses.

Assuming we want to be at 70% within 5 months or approximately 150 days…So nationally need to be at approximately 1.9 million doses a day – from our 900k per day rate as I write this (1/22/21).

Now we need a re-calculable, rule of thumb number so it’s easy to figure out how this all translates to doses per day per any given population area.

1.9 million is .0058% of our total population 330,000. This .0058 number can be used as a fairly accurate rule of thumb to extrapolate doses per day per population accounting for % of total population targeting and % of those needing 2 doses. This is a daily number. Weekly is .0406. The state needs to deliver around 375,000 doses per week to reach our goal.

Monmouth County has around 620,000 people x .0406 = 25,200 doses per week.

I intentionally didn’t account for vaccines already delivered here believing those numbers will be offset by our already expected supply/dose delivery delays over the next several weeks.

Now it’s easy to figure out what each County needs to shoot for and to adjust the target as variables fluctuate. If single dose vaccines are approved and become dominant, that will reduce our required dose-per-day number.  If you have a regional mega site – fine, do the math for the region.

This exercise will enable us to continuously recalculate and understand when we might reach resource capacity. Then we’ll need to make other adjustments…such as time. We may need to adjust expectations out into the 3rd quarter if supply is initially constrained.

That potential isn’t a disaster. The benefits of vaccination will accrue gradually. While getting to full vaccination rate is the goal, we’ll see benefits way before that.  So things ought to be much improved by this spring/summer…no matter what!

Now that we know these numbers the question becomes, can we attain them. That 25,200 shots per week number for Monmouth County sounds daunting. But until we had it, again…we’ve been flying blind.  If there is no way to meet the number. We need to level with people and provide reasonable expectations now, rather than deep, government-credibility-killing disappointment later.

I’ve spoken to just about all the significant vaccine delivery entities in Monmouth County. Every major hospital system, community based clinics, independent pharmacy systems etc. Happy to report, despite how daunting that 25,000 per week dose count sounds…we can do it once fully ramped up and continuously supplied.

That’s the good news.

We do have to get fully ramped up (I assumed in my calculations we’d be ready in the first week of February). At least here in Monmouth County, we’re close to being ready to roll. That leaves the supply as a big wild card. The federal government, under President Trump, did amazing work facilitating the development of the vaccines in record time. But two other critical, logistical missions seem to have been neglected. Manufacturing and delivery. It doesn’t matter how incredible the record-setting vaccine development accomplishment was from a scientific perspective. If we can’t produce at scale and get into peoples’ arms…it’s all for naught. That’s the harsh reality.

I’m hopeful that the new administration – as per the President’s campaign & transition rhetoric – will fix these neglected areas. But I have to say, I’m disappointed so far. President Biden has set the bar at an unambitious million doses a day during his first 100 days. 2 problems with that…first, we are already at 900,000 doses a day now, and could easily have been on track to get to an average of a million doses a day had the Trump administration been left in place. Did I miss the campaign slogan “we’ll be as good as the other guys!”  Second, in order to meet our goal, it’s going to take a rate of dose delivery double President Biden’s depressingly modest goal. If we are going to be stuck at those low levels of delivery for the next 100 days, we’ll have to dramatically increase delivery in April, May & June. That may exceed our delivery resources.

Two last areas of concern here in NJ. First, the Governor’s office is blaming the current shortage of vaccines on the feds…but the national trackers have us having delivered only 52% of the vaccines sent to NJ.  We need an explanation.  Second, we totally seem to have dropped the ball regarding organizing scheduling/registration. People have to sign up on multiple platforms. Especially for older folks, that’s a nightmare. And, what happens when people start to hear that vaccines are available from several sites at a time. Too much room for confusion, voluminous missed appointments and potentially wasted vaccine doses.

We have the resources to carry out this set of missions and meet our goal. Plenty of room for optimism…but many pitfalls too.  Everyone needs to step up.  Let’s do this!

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