Though a host of challenges remain, there’s much cause for optimism as the global fight against COVID-19 intensifies and vaccine rollout efforts accelerate in February 2021.
Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases reported has declined for a fourth week in a row according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the U.S., the two-week average for new cases is down 31 percent while vaccination rates are up, with at least 9.5 percent of the population receiving at least one dose. As of Feb. 21, 75.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed and 63.09 million doses have been administered.
Better yet, based on current vaccine production rates and the expedited pace of the vaccination rollout, top infectious disease experts say the vaccines may be available to everyone as soon as April 2021. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said that the country may be able to vaccinate the majority of Americans by the middle or end of summer.
On the vaccine supply front, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines may soon have company from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson candidate vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine may get WHO emergency approval by the middle of this month, and the company anticipates being able to produce more than 200 million doses per month by April. Johnson & Johnson submitted their vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval the first week of February; it may receive emergency use authorization by late February. It was found to be 85 percent effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
In recent weeks there’s been a lot of talk about the added effectiveness of people wearing two masks and a recent study has confirmed that. Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that wearing two face masks can reduce a person’s exposure to coronavirus particles by more than 90 percent. And though vaccine hesitancy remains an ongoing patient education issue for healthcare providers, a Gallop poll released this month found that 71 percent of those surveyed are willing to receive the vaccine.
However, health authorities continue to monitor the worldwide spread of new variants of the coronavirus originating in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. It is not yet known how effective the vaccines will be against these new mutated variants, which seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants and may result in more cases of COVID-19.
Healthcare providers rolling out vaccines can help prepare patients to receive them through sharing well-sourced facts and information about the virus and the vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy can be overcome and patients can be better informed and more willing to receive the vaccines through a mass messaging text campaign to educate patients and schedule them for vaccinations. A mass messaging group texting approach can enable a provider to quickly and effectively reach out to patients, resolve any concerns, and begin getting vaccines in arms.
For a one-stop patient education resource that provides tips on how to implement your own well-planned vaccine communications workflow along as well as templates of facts, FAQs and data about the vaccine, check out the new guide “The COVID-19 Vaccine: A Resource.”