The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccination to include older citizens across the United States has led to bottlenecks, computer system failures, and resentment in many states due to overwhelming demand for the vaccines.
The Mississippi Department of Health stopped accepting appointments the same day it began giving them due to a “monumental spike” in applications. People had to wait hours to book their vaccinations through a state website or toll-free number on Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were pulled from the site due to technical problems and had to start the process over.
In California, counties were begging for more doses of the vaccine to reach millions of their elderly citizens. Hospitals in the south of the state ran out of available appointments in a matter of hours. Telephone lines collapsed in Georgia.
Until a few days ago, health workers and nursing home patients had been prioritized in most places in the United States. But states have now included many of the nation’s 54 million seniors with the authorization of the government of President Donald Trump, although the minimum age varies from place to place: starting at 65, 70 or older.
On Thursday, New Jersey expanded its vaccination program to include people between the ages of 16 and 65 with certain medical conditions, including 2 million smokers, who are more likely to have health complications.
Meanwhile, the United States recorded 3,848 new deaths on Wednesday, down from the peak of 4,327 reported the day before, according to Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s total death toll from COVID-19 has exceeded 385,000.
More than 11.1 million Americans, or more than 3% of the population, have received their first dose of the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. The goal of inoculating between 70% and 85% of the population to achieve herd immunity and overcome the outbreak is still far from being met.