The year is 2021 and it is late spring. With COVID-19 vaccine quantities bountiful, you return to your preferred clinic after a year-long absence to receive the first of your two injections. In the small sterile office, it feels like you and your health care provider are the only ones in the room, a simple interaction between two individuals.
However, nothing can be further from the truth.
In reality, many other influences are playing a role in getting you to that point; multiple stakeholders. As we have written previously, various stakeholders play a role in the management of a given disease. There are actions by governments. During the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government attempted to contain the spread of coronavirus by tracking down travelers from Wuhan. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) leveraged a long-standing relationship with its Chinese counterpart to gain a better understanding of the novel disease. Regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted proposed therapies to rigorous safety standards to ensure the safety of the American people. Furthermore, we witnessed the cooperation between governments and other organizations.
Like the containment of the pandemic, many stakeholders are involved in the vaccination effort. They play roles in vaccine development, production, education, and administration.
COVID-19 Vaccine Development
Unlike most other disease states, there was an unprecedented level of pressure by the populace upon pharmaceutical companies to rapidly develop a vaccine to meet demand. To accomplish this herculean feat, industry partnered with governments and institutions of higher learning. Through Operation Warp Speed, the U.S collaborated with Pfizer to help scale up its vaccine development operations. AstraZeneca partnered with Oxford to combine its global development, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities with Oxford’s vaccinology expertise.
A few companies developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, with Pfizer and Moderna emerging as front runners. While both companies have vaccines that are approximately 95% efficacious, this is only the start. They have to interact with U.S and European Regulators, who hold significant sway as they have final say in whether companies’ vaccines can be used on the public. To receive approval, an innovator’s vaccine must pass rigorous safety standards.This is the role of the FDA in the U.S. and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Europe.
Availability and even access are just part of the puzzle. Vaccine education is critical to ensuring successful uptake. It is a twofold process combining efforts for combatting hesitancy with those designed to reach healthcare providers. Stakeholders including governments, professional and advocacy groups play a vital role in addressing hesitancy by the public of vaccines, particularly one which is new and developed on a shortened timeline. For example, the U.S federal government started promoting the safety of the Pfizer vaccine after its U.S approval, with President-Elect Biden receiving his first and second shot on live television. Like the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) distributes educational materials on its website to combat vaccine hesitancy on a worldwide basis.
Healthcare providers need information on the utility, efficacy and safety of the vaccine. Here also, diverse stakeholder groups are working to make this happen. As far as government organizations, the CDC has created a vaccination training program to educate healthcare professionals on evidence-based immunization and vaccine best practices. Professional societies have aided in the effort as well. In coordination with the CDC, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), organizations such as the American Medical Association, National Medical Association, and American Nurses Association created a set of videos to educate and answer frequently asked questions for providers on COVID-19 vaccines. These videos and other content will be distributed through the societies’ professional networks and communities. Such education helps build trust with providers which lends itself to the trust of their patients.
Vaccine administration tasks the stakeholders organizing a massive operation. Governments, health systems, healthcare providers, private pharmacies, and insurance companies are entities which are all involved. According to CNN, the Biden Administration will leverage the government to cooperate with state governments, private pharmacies, and even the National Guard. Additionally, to proactively ward off vaccine hesitancy, the Administration will engage in a public education campaign.
Insurance companies must compensate providers. According to the CMS, health insurers must cover the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring Americans do not have to pay out of pocket.
COVID-19 Vaccine Bottom line
Right now, unfortunately, COVID-19 sits at the top of everyone’s mind as it restricts global society in the near term. However, as COVID-19 fades from the news and life returns to normal, people will become less concerned about getting vaccinated. A similar pattern occurs with the season flu, who sports a vaccination rate of 51.8%.
Providers and organizations should step in here. Long-term, physicians and organizations should remind people to be re-vaccinated. Like the flu, it’s likely that we will have to get a vaccination for COVID every year. Thus, at this point, companies should start building out deeper relationships with a lot of different groups. A strong ecosystem outside of the doctor’s office is needed to ensure continued vaccination, limiting future outbreaks. Send us an inquiry at https://snowfish.net/ to learn more.