ENTERPRISE EDITORIAL: State, cities must begin planning now for vaccine – Beaumont Enterprise

Three promising vaccines for COVID-19 have already been announced and others are expected to follow, but many people think this is something that will happen sometime next year. Actually, the first vaccines could be ready for distribution in December in limited numbers, which means that state and local authorities need to start planning now for this important process.

Gov. Greg Abbott kick-started the effort this week with the unveiling of a COVID-19 vaccine allocation process with the Texas Department of State Health Services. These principles were outlined by the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel created by the agency to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection.

Initial vaccine priorities will be:

 Health care workers who obviously play a critical role in caring for and preserving the lives of COVID-19 patients.

 Frontline workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services.

 Vulnerable populations who are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19.

In addition to those groups, the vaccine effort is designed to mitigate health inequities due to such factors as demographics, poverty and insurance status. Another key goal is ensuring that the vaccines are distributed to all areas of the state, including small towns and rural counties. Big cities are important because a lot of Texans live in them, but no one should be overlooked in this effort.

The state is also emphasizing transparency about all of this, which is encouraging. That should apply to all government activities, but it is especially important with something this vital. COVID vaccines should help us finally reduce and eventually eliminate this deadly disease that has ravaged our social life and economy. There should be no confusion about how this effort will unfold, and questions about it must be answered as soon as they crop up.

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Some people are mistrustful of this vaccine or others, thinking they cause illness instead of preventing it. That’s not true, but vaccine skeptics have been increasing in recent years, often feeding on misinformation found on the internet or social media sites. That’s unfortunate, but that bell can’t be unrung. Our elected officials, medical professionals, community leaders and clergy should encourage people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and help address any concerns they might have.

These vaccines represent the light at the end of the tunnel. The coronavirus has already killed more than 250,000 Americans and the final death toll could approach 400,000. As soon as vaccines are available to save us from this scourge, we should take advantage of them and make 2021 a year of spiritual and economic recovery.



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