By Paul DeMarco, commentary
BIRMINGHAM — As the COVID-19 vaccine gets distributed nationwide, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, however, for the time being the surge in infections and fatalities rages on and in fact is at its highest rate for the state.
By the time this pandemic is completed, projections are that this country will have lost more lives than we did in the second world war. That is unacceptable.
Thus, there needs to be a wartime like effort to get people vaccinated rapidly. However, this week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that Alabama ranks 48th out of 50 states in percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered at almost 21 percent. In addition in the next two weeks, the CDC is now going to provide more vaccines to those states that are more efficient in the delivery of the medications.
We need to break through the bureaucracy and stand up full-time clinics that are accessible and fully staffed.
The state should look to retired healthcare workers to fill in gaps in manpower shortages, as many hard-hit areas around the country did at the start of the pandemic to assist hospitals. In addition, we have so many community schools and universities that educate students in the health care profession that could assist in delivering the vaccines.
We should have weekend clinics that can administer vaccines, and in addition, administer monoclonal antibody infusions for those that are newly infected and not yet vaccinated to reduce hospitalization and death for the most vulnerable.
It must be an all hands on deck effort by the medical community and the public itself. States around the country are activating their National Guard units to assist in the distribution of these vaccines. Alabama should activate its guard units to help coordinate the logistics to help with vaccines for the most vulnerable to the virus. Rural counties that have lost their hospitals or medical facilities should be allowed to open up armories to provide a distribution center for the vaccines in these parts of the state.
Through natural disasters and the pandemic, Alabama neighbors have always taken care of each other. The state can take pride in being one of the most charitable and patriotic in the United States.
Alabama has the opportunity to lead the Nation in protecting its citizens and in ending this deadly pandemic.
Let’s get it done.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives