In an attempt to streamline and centralize efforts, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has decided to reduce the number of vaccination locations from 780 sites to 200-300. Despite the first-phase cohort including “health care workers and anyone over the age of 65 or between the ages of 16 and 64 with pre-existing conditions,” some Pittsburg-area health systems had created their own extra criteria. Presumably done as a way to determine the most “at-risk” cases for limited vaccine supplies, these added criteria unfortunately caused certain eligible recipients to miss-out. Pennsylvania's plan to shift distribution to centers that can handle large-scale inoculations aims to make vaccination more orderly, organized and fair.
Recently, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the UK, announced a new review that promoted data-collection for better research and analysis. A report published in The Lancet on “structural inequalities, biases and racism” found that health inequalities were worsened by “race-blind” data-collection. Following these concerns, the NHS decided to update their methods, and now collects vaccine ethnicity data. By increasing the number of data-points collected, experts and scientists can have access to an increasing amount of information which they can then turn into valuable insights and actionable results.
Since the discovery of new COVID-19 virus variants, researchers have been hard at work developing an updated vaccine. Last week, Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca announced that an updated COVID-19 vaccine will most likely be available in the fall of this year. Additionally, the company aims to produce 100 million doses of their currently approved COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed alongside researchers at the University of Oxford. However, some countries, including France and Germany, have advised individuals over 65 years old to not get this vaccine, as there isn’t enough data on its efficacy for their age group.
Unfortunately, not all institutions are able to pivot quickly enough. Recently, it was announced that all dental students in Scotland would need to repeat their final year, as they were not able to gain sufficient hands-on training for aerosol procedures. However, in light of this unfortunate circumstance, the Scottish government has offered bursaries to assist in the added costs of another school year.
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