Covid-19 will someday be a painful memory of the atrocities that a virus can cause humankind. From full-fledged businesses going from broke to the countless deaths that led to so much loss and grief, the pandemic spared no section of society. September 2021 came as a ray of hope with decreasing Covid-19 case counts, but November had different plans. Today, the new Omicron variant has countries shaking with fear. Even the US is now reexamining its safety plan against the ongoing threat caused by the new variant.
President Biden addressed the country and shared his concerns about the rising Omicron cases. As long as the virus is here, it is likely to mutate. As a result of this mutation, the need for vaccination will also increase. Biden assured Americans that they have the power of science and that vaccines are there to save their lives.
After witnessing the tens of thousands of helpless COVID-19 patients at the pandemic’s start, before vaccines were available, people are now actively getting the booster dose before the next wave arises. Countries like Germany, France, and South Africa are dealing with increased cases. The United Kingdom is currently battling the third wave, with more than 70% of cases caused by the Omicron variant.
To date, the US has administered over 500 million Covid-19 doses, and the number is increasing exponentially while you read this article. Americans received double doses of most Covid-19 vaccines to build their immunity against the virus. But with the new variant, experts are urging a booster dose. An increase in the number of vaccine-seeking people has resulted in staff and vaccine shortages. Some pharmacies, where many vaccinations and boosters are administered, are experiencing logistical issues in terms of providing booster doses.
Under normal circumstances, drugstores, pharmacies, and clinics would be busy giving flu shots and other vaccines this time of the year. But Covid-19 has added to the stress as the healthcare sector is overwhelmed with Covid-19 shots and tests. Nor is this stress expected to subside soon, especially after President Biden publicly urged fully vaccinated Americans to get booster shots and the unvaccinated to get their jabs. He added that almost everyone who has died due to Covid-19 was not vaccinated, and this fact has pushed demand for the vaccine to new heights.
61% of the entire US population is fully vaccinated, while 12% have received a single dose of any of the three vaccine types. But 27% of the population is yet to get vaccinated. The new suggestion of a booster dose is a task that adds to the challenge of getting everyone fully vaccinated. Fulfilling the single, double, and booster vaccination demands will be no less than a miracle for the healthcare and vaccine manufacturing sector.
As the regulators approve antiviral pills from Merck and Pfizer for Covid-19 treatment, doctors will be able to diagnose virus-induced infections and prescribe drugs to the consumers. Pharmacists are witnessing quadruple demands of Covid-19 vaccines, and it seems they need some serious help to deliver the much-anticipated booster to everyone that has taken the first two doses.
Staffing issues are increasing with the growing demands, and healthcare workers and pharmacists are suffering from burnout due to continuous shifts. Anne Burns, the Vice President of the American Pharmacists Association, highlighted that breaks for pharmacy employees are essential now to provide a momentary rest. She expressed that the demands have increased acutely since the start of the Omicron wave.
Pharmacies and clinics require consistent staffing to operate safely and meet consumer needs. The current labor shortage is also a result of many pharmacists and pharmacy technicians leaving the healthcare sector due to being overwhelmed after the virus hit. Many also became infected due to interactions with infected patients, and, like other frontline workers, including clinic, hospital, and pharmacy staff, some also lost their lives to the virus.
Moreover, the community pharmacy and healthcare setup contribute to the risk of infection. The limited physical space and presence of benchtops, shelves, and chairs contribute to the infection hazards. The transmission risk is high due to surfaces like patient chairs and shelves.
The small spaces pose a challenge in maintaining physical distancing.
The growing vaccine demands will parallel the ongoing holiday season. Everyone from the manufacturing companies to the cold storage chains, transport facilities, vaccine administering centers, and the government needs to stay proactive. A report by Dickson Data suggests that vaccine monitoring is the most crucial part of managing the vaccination program. It breaks down the importance of vaccine temperature monitoring from manufacturing to delivery through five best practices that are explained in detail by the company.
With Omicron expanding its reach in the world, getting vaccinated is essential, and for the producers and administrators, it is crucial to ensure that consumer demands are met.
There is a large unvaccinated population that is now realizing that getting vaccinated is a better choice for health and logistical reasons. A lot of international airlines and borders are now proposing vaccination to be a requirement for travel. Schools that are reopening are also introducing policies that benefit vaccinated students and make studying on campus more difficult for unvaccinated individuals as they have to follow mask mandates indoors and outdoors. Some schools may ask unvaccinated students to participate in online classes and avoid in-person classes, although some students may prefer online education.
Apart from the newly found cases of the Omicron variant, there is a rise in COVID-19 cases related to the delta variants as well, forming a new wave of cases all over the world. All of these factors have caused the vaccine demand to grow greatly this Christmas.
This holiday season, it might be a great idea to wish for a corona-free 2022, as the health of the world’s citizens and economies is once again at risk due to the current spike in cases. The fight against this virus is still ongoing, and with more research and innovation, we must hope 2022 is the year we can win over this pandemic.