Weather delays, special privileges and other things you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

February 26, 2021
sign saying six feet, be smart, stay apart
Some countries have begun to provide incentives or special privileges to those who have been vaccinated. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In Israel, people who have been fully vaccinated get special privileges. 

Though somewhat controversial, the idea of this “green passport” – a designation that allows those who have gotten both Pfizer doses to go to gyms, hotels, synagogues and in March, bars and restaurants – is gaining steam with some who think we need to do a better job of motivating people to get vaccinated. 

According to Danielle Scheurer, M.D., MUSC Health chief quality officer, we’re still in the phase of vaccination where those who are eligible are clamoring to get the vaccine. But soon, she said, it will become available to more groups of people, and that’s when we’ll start to hear more about those who choose to not get vaccinated.

Headshot of Scheurer 
Danielle Scheurer, M.D.

“I think we probably need to get more creative with how we’re selling this,” she said. And about how Israel is handling things? “You know, it’s not a bad public health incentive. Yes, you still wear a mask and distance, but you get more access. I think it’s a good policy.”

She also thinks we could improve our messaging. She, along with doctors and epidemiologists all over the world, touts how amazing these vaccines are. But that often seems to get lost in the cautionary caveats: You still have to wear a mask. We don’t know if those who are vaccinated can still transmit the virus. It might not work as well against the variants. 

“I think we should probably be saying, ‘It doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID, but if you do, it’s not going to kill you.’ If avoiding death doesn’t motivate people, I don’t know what will.”

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6% of Americans are fully vaccinated and roughly 14% have gotten at least one dose – a far cry from the 80% herd immunity we need in this country. As of today, more than 28 million Americans have had confirmed coronavirus infections, and approximately 505,896 have died of COVID-19, reports the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

With the vaccine landscape changing almost daily, each week we are checking in with Scheurer to ask her the most pertinent questions that are hanging in the balance.

Q. What sort of havoc has the weather wreaked on vaccine deliveries? 

A. Last week was tough. But we’re in better shape now. This week we got our Monday shipment, which was 5,800 doses, and on Wednesday, we got another 4,400. That’s great, but we asked for 30,000. 

Q. In a perfect world where MUSC Health gets as many vaccine doses as it wants, what is the maximum number of people we could be vaccinating a day?

A. 10,000 a day or roughly 60,000 every week. That’s how much we could do. We are poised and ready and could totally deploy that many teams if given the opportunity. That said, I don’t think that we’ll ever get that much vaccine. We can ramp up within days. From the time we get a tracking number, we are nimble. That said, 30,000 might be a more realistic number. And that we can easily handle. The question is will we get there in three weeks or three months? 

Q. Is there a way the entire process could be improved – logistics, staffing, hours of operation, etc.?

A. You know, I think we could reduce the rule-based approach and simplify by just getting shots in arms. Maybe we just keep with the reverse chronological order method. Every week go down by five years in terms of who is eligible. 

Q. Let’s say somebody gets the first dose and then becomes COVID positive. Should they still get second dose or just stop right there?

A. The CDC does recommend finishing the course. So, they should still get the second one. 

Q. What’s the biggest thing going on in your vaccine world – the thing you want to impress upon the general public the most?

A. (Laughs) It literally changes daily. That’s what makes this job so challenging. 

**Have a question you'd like answered? Email it to donovanb@musc.edu with the subject line "Vaccine Q."

About the Author

Bryce Donovan

Keywords: COVID-19, Features, Trending Topics