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Mass vaccination sites for Covid-19 are back

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Officials across the country are reopening temporary mass vaccination sites they closed months ago, in a bid to vaccinate and boost more people in latest wave of Covid-19 driven by the Omicron variant .

Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island are among the states that have opened or plan to open sites designed to administer hundreds, if not thousands of shots a day, in the near future. Locations include Boston’s Fenway Park, shopping malls, a casino, and convention centers.

Many states phased out mass vaccination sites last summer and switched to smaller, more targeted vaccination efforts after demand declined among adults eligible to receive their first vaccines.

“At the start of the summer we started to have a little bit of hope,” said Rachel Seeber, board member for Warren County in upstate New York, who insisted. for a clinic to reopen in a former Sears store.

Officials say they are again increasing their capacities to provide booster shots and reach children who have recently become eligible for vaccines.

Among Americans 5 years of age or older eligible for vaccination, 66.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 38% of fully immunized adults received booster shots.

Some of the vaccination locations also offer Covid-19 tests.

A New Jersey vaccine mega-site reopened in a Burlington County storefront in November, as concerns over the Omicron variant lead more people to get vaccinated or boosted.


Photo:

Virtua Health

Officials at mass vaccination sites say they also hope to reach some of the 27% of adults who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19, CDC data shows. However, the interest of unvaccinated adults did not increase during the Omicron wave, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Officials say trafficking was fairly sustained in the resuscitated large clinics, but not as high as in the spring, when millions of adults received their first injections.

The state-run “Burlington County Covid-19 Vaccine Mega-Site” reopened on November 30 at an AC Moore department store in New Jersey after it closed at a nearby mall in July, and is counting on average 1,000 people per day, depending on the health system that manages it. That’s about 200 people a day at the start of December; between 50 and 100 adults receive a vaccine against Covid-19 for the first time.

“Speaking with people, it’s clear that the Omicron variant is worrying people,” said Phyllis Worrell, emergency preparedness coordinator for Virtua Health, which manages the site alongside state and county.

The Burlington County mega-site averages 1,000 people per day, according to the health care system that manages it, up from about 200 per day at the start of last month.


Photo:

Virtua Health

Oregon is stepping up its high-volume vaccination clinics and expects to have 10 in the next few days, the largest of which could deliver up to 2,000 or 3,000 injections per day, said Dean Sidelinger, head of the clinic. Oregon State Health and Epidemiologist. The state aims to give 1 million new reminders to its population of 4.2 million by the end of the month.

“It’s kind of a hand on the deck so that we can make sure that if someone is ready to get the vaccine – first dose, second dose, extra dose or booster dose – we can have a site that’s convenient enough to them where they can get so it’s not a hindrance for them, ”Dr Sidelinger said.

Pharmacies and health clinics still provide plenty of vaccines, but have also become strained as vaccine eligibility has expanded quite quickly, Dr Sidelinger said. In upstate New York, where a new mass clinic recently reopened, county officials said they heard from small doctor’s offices that were inundated with vaccine appointments.

The United States recently received an average of 1.1 million new doses per day, according to federal data, which includes people receiving boosters.

Restarting large-scale community vaccination efforts presents challenges, including a Covid-19-linked healthcare worker shortage that is immobilizing medical workers who were involved in the large vaccine rollout last time around, Dr Sidelinger said.

To alleviate similar staffing pressures in Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker recently said he was sending staff to help local health departments with mass vaccination operations. In Rhode Island, the National Guard employs a large site that has just opened in a convention center.

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The seven-day average of new cases in the United States exceeded 600,000 for the first time on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States more than doubled the maximum number of cases seen in last winter’s outbreak, though testing issues make it difficult to keep track of the numbers.

Hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 reached a seven-day average of 121,600 on Friday, according to data released by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The number grew rapidly, but did not reach the pandemic peak of 137,510 on January 10, 2021.

After the failure of Merck’s Covid-19 vaccine candidates, the drugmaker has teamed up with rival Johnson & Johnson. WSJ reporter Jared Hopkins takes us behind the scenes as the first Merck photos are released for distribution. Photo: Hannah Yoon / WSJ

Write to Jennifer Levitz at [email protected]

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